Sunday, December 13, 2015

Death Wish 3

  I suppose there's another interesting conversation to be prompted by Death Wish 3, and like it's predecessor before it- it's a not-so-interesting movie. But, that's all irrelevant because Death Wish 3 is outright in-your-face crazy. It's far from the meticulous and calculating revenge thrillers of Death Wish 1 & 2, it's... something else. It's climax wouldn't be out of place in a Rambo movie, and the wit sizzles with the snappiness of a Dirty Harry flick. This isn't a low key vigilante movie- like the other two before it. This is an all-out action fest. Not that I'm complaining. This movie focuses less on sexual violence (although again, it's not entirely absent- regretfully) and more on widespread chaos and carnage- and apparently, Architect-turned-vigilante, Paul Kersey... is the right guy to clean these streets up.

   There was enough seriousness in Death Wish 2, by comparison if nothing else, that you could hold it accountable for it's irresponsible usage of rape and murder as little more than sideshow attractions. Come one! Come all! Be shocked! Be appalled! It was exploitation at it's not-so-finest. There was no element of cheese to dull the edge. It wasn't some low budget shlockfest like Thriller: A Cruel Picture. It was a sequel to a very highly thought of crime thriller. Anyways, Death Wish 3 has none of that seriousness- ergo, you can't hold it accountable. How could you? This is a movie where old men keep massive machine guns in their china closets as 'heirlooms', and you can order rocket launchers in the mail. It's so absurd I couldn't help but grin and shake my head, but of course it's all in good fun.

  Consider a moment in the movie where the main villain realizes that despite outnumbering the protagonist 20+ to 1, he's going to 'need more men', so he calls someone and literally just says "Yeah, I need more men. Okay. Thanks." I guess that's the 1-800-Henchmen line. And, boy do they deliver! In rolls the 80's biker gang from hell- causing total anarchy as the movie flies clean off the rails. The body count in this movie is ridiculously high. It's action-packed delirium in the last thirty minutes. Gung-ho, careless, reckless, pro-vigilantism catharsis. Setting all that aside for a moment, I have to give the movie props for creating an interesting host of peripheral and supporting characters. Even if most of them are just one-dimensional, they're often funny or helpful in unique ways.

  Bronson helps an elderly couple booby trap their window so that the next hoodlum who tries to break in- gets a faceful. Which does indeed happen. As he pulls the trap back- there's two small white things stuck in the board of it. "What're those?" they ask- "Teeth." Bronson replies with a smirk. It's simply that kind of movie. The villains are so incredibly over the top evil that they couldn't possibly exist anywhere in reality- only in the crazy action movies of the 80's. With villains so cartoonishly vile and psychopathic- the uber violent retaliation carried out by Bronson could readily be considered justice, within the given context. Of course it doesn't help that once again the cops are hopeless idiots 90% of the movie.

   Ah, but who cares? The filmmakers knew what was up. If you're going along with this franchise, there's only one way to go- bigger and better. If you want thoughtfulness and atmosphere, you can always re-watch the original. But you don't watch a sequel for anything less than Bronson killing more creeps. Ergo, each one has to outdo the last. Death Wish 3 took it so far, it has the scale and violence of a 5th or 6th entry. Someone forgot to escalate gradually and just said 'fuck it', this is going to be an all-out urban war movie. Machine guns, rocket launchers, grenades, molotov cocktails, dozens of explosions and tons of blood. All I can say is... God bless that person. This movie was a blast. A hyper-violent, crazy, over-the-top, blast.

  There's no point in trying to dissect it thoughtfully. There's nothing but 80's badassery and shootouts here. It's cheesy in a reserved way. It's well made and slick, with witty dialog and overflowing with entertainment value. Whether you love to laugh at the absurdity on display, or you don't care and you're just an action junkie looking for a fix- it's all here under one roof. It's a fun movie if you're into that sort of thing. I can't fault Death Wish 3 for being anything but a really good time. As an 80's movie freak, an action junkie, and an exploitation buff to boot- this movie spoke to me on a near-spiritual level. I kid, but only kinda. This movie ticked all the boxes for me. Maybe it will for you too?

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