Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Film Review: Death Sentence (2007)

Death Sentence (Review)
United States/2007
Format Viewed For Review: Blu-ray (German)
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...but it is very entertaining, wildly suspenseful, and masterfully directed."

When his son is killed for a gang initiation, Nick Hume (Kevin Bacon) takes the law into his own hands...

Death Sentence is a traditional revenge thriller. It often tries to dig deeper into the psychology, but it ends up more of an action-thriller -- and that's a-ok. The story begins with some family home videos. Although not the best substitute for character development, it ends up working effectively. Soon thereafter, Nick's son is slain, and he won't let the inept justice system let him die in vain. So, he kills his son's murderer, which unleashes a chain reaction of vengeance. I won't spoil the rest, because there are a few surprises here and there. I will say, the climax is superb and the ending is good.

All-in-all, Death Sentence is a great revenge thriller. Despite some limited character development, it was surprisingly effective. I was rooting for Nick the entire film, and there was a sincere sense of loss. Also, watching Nick's character deteriorate was great. However, the film really excels in the tension and action departments. The chase scene was unnervingly suspenseful, and the shootouts were tense and engaging. Both elements are balanced well enough to keep the audience engaged, as well. More importantly, they were masterfully executed. I was pulled into these scenes thanks to the balance and direction. The only issues I had with the stories were the clichés and some overly contrived scenes.

The acting is mostly great, too. Kevin Bacon is a great leading man. Garrett Hedlund, playing the gang leader, is also great. The only actor who felt forced and mediocre was Jordan Garrett. The film has a grungy atmosphere, which works well with the tone of the film. The music was also dark and ominous; if you've watched any James Wan films, you'll probably recognize the similar tones and tempos. (Kinda reminded me of Dead Silence.) The camerawork was great during the action, I love dynamic camerawork. Director James Wan is a master of suspense. Even with a story that skimps on character development and has a few clichés, Wan's direction manages to excel. He's truly one of the more overlooked and underrated directors of our time.

Overall, Death Sentence is a great film. It's not without its flaws, but it is very entertaining, wildly suspenseful, and masterfully directed. As far as my opinion goes with vendetta films, I think Death Sentence is one of the best, and it's aging better than Death Wish. If you're a fan of James Wan and you haven't watched this overlooked gem... What are you waiting for?

Score: 8/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood, some gore.

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