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Movie Review: Death Sentence

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In 2004 writer/director James Wan created an original and fresh horror picture that put some life back into a dying genre. That film was Saw. Now in 2007 Wan returns to the screen with the revenge thriller, Death Sentence, this time behind the camera, leaving writing duties to first-timer Ian Jeffers.

Nick Hume (Kevin Bacon), a hard working executive with a near perfect life and family, finds his life turned upside down after his eldest son Brendan (Stuart Lafferty making his screen debut) is murdered by a vicious street gang member. Nick decides to take the law into his own hands by killing the street thug himself, which results in the remaining gang members hunting down Nick and the rest of his family.

I am a huge fan of Wan’s superior Saw but unfortunately he has let me down with this effort. The main issue I had with the film was the awkward tone of the script; I couldn’t work out whether I should be taking it seriously or not. This also isn’t aided by some odd choices in the music department. Another major flaw with the script is how the cops completely ignore Nick’s vengeful actions.

Kevin Bacon doesn’t do an awful lot wrong but his performance can’t help but feel a little out of place because of the script. However some kudos must go to Jeffers for a nice character touch where Bacon’s character Nick teaches himself how to use a gun before going out all guns blazing, a very common flaw in a lot of similar films.

In general the action is handled well, though, including a breathless foot chase where the shaky-cam technique is used with aplomb. Naturally there is plenty of bloodshed too.

Overall Death Sentence doesn’t add anything new to the revenge genre nor does it do justice to superior flicks like Man On Fire or Kill Bill; it's an average picture in desperate need of a re-write.

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