August 31, 2007, - 11:27 am

Weekend Box Office: Kevin Bacon, You’re No Charles Bronson – “Death Wish” Redo Fails

Some interesting selections, this weekend, including Rob Zombie’s remake of “Halloween,” 29 years later. Sorry, readers, but I cannot review that movie. Knowing Zombie’s penchant for the most disturbing, most grotesque dismemberment and myriad other shock mechanisms in his movies, I wimped out of last night’s screening. (One sign that it’s bad: A movie that should have actually premiered on Halloween, is stuck in the August movie crypt reserved for bad movies.) I now heear it’s not as bad or scary as his other stuff, but, again, I didn’t see it. Here’s what I did see:

“Death Sentence” Far Inferior to “Death Wish”

* “Death Sentence“: I was really looking forward to this movie, because it has a plot akin to “Death Wish” (which I like) and stars Kevin Bacon, of whom I’m a fan. But this movie adds little to America, other than another connection for the “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” game. You can now link Kelly Preston (who plays Bacon’s wife), Aisha Tyler (a police detective), and John Goodman (a gang member’s bizarre father with an even more bizarre and unbelievable, bad accent) to Bacon with one “degree.”
This movie is based on a book written by Brian Garfield, the same novel on which “Death Wish” was based. But this is no Death Wish. Instead, it’s “Remorse Wish”–a miserable, choppy emulation of what is now a cult film classic. It’s the sensitive man’s, liberal version of what they wished “Death Wish” was about, with moralizing and lectures and messages against vengeance. Spare me.
And it’s clumsy on so many levels.
Where the late, great Charles Bronson was a methodical architect–all of the killers, muggers, and other criminals he targeted got theirs and he got away with it–Kevin Bacon is a brooding, sensitive man who doesn’t plan ahead and repeatedly gets stuck. We liked “Death Wish” because tough-as-nails Charles Bronson felt no remorse cleaning the streets of these scumbags who murdered his wife and raped his daughter. We enjoyed watching this bleeding-heart liberal become a conservative-minded vigilante who did the job the cops and prosecutors wouldn’t.
In this version, Kevin Bacon is crying in the shower and has to be comforted by his wife. Please. We really don’t need the sensitive man’s Death Wish. The original was just fine. It had no room for men who wear moisturizer and visit the spa.
In this incarnation, Bacon plays a top executive of an insurance or financial investment company who watches his talented, favorite son get slaughtered by a gang at a gas station in an initiation rite. He chooses to take revenge and kill the murderer. But it doesn’t quite go as planned, as he gets deeper and deeper into a vicious Sunni-versus-Shi’ite-like cycle of murder with the gang. In an odd portrayal you’d only see from liberal Hollywood, the gang of drug-dealing skinheads has token Black and Hispanic members . . . for diversity’s sake. Yup, only Tinseltown would insist on cast diversity in a skinhead gang.
And the third act of this movie is just plain stupid and too long and drawn out. It’s bloody and gory, but not scary or poignant. Just kill them already! That Bacon has transformed himself into “one of them” is a statement I didn’t need. Charles Bronson’s Paul Kersey doesn’t transform into one of them. He just gets hardened. And that’s what we like about him.
There’s a reason vengeance movies–where innocent law-abiding victims of murder take justice into their own hands when the system fails–are making a comeback. This and Jodi Foster’s far-superior, upcoming “The Brave One” are symptoms of a “justice” system that is, in fact, failing us. Zacarias Moussaoui didn’t get the death penalty for conspiracy in the murder of 3,000 Americans because jurors read a book by his brother about how he was abused as a child. Meanwhile, an innocent Michigan prosecutor has been indicted and is now being sued over his daring to successfully prosecute Al-Qaeda terrorists. And other violent criminals are going free. O.J. is playing golf and partying with numerous young, buxom blondes, while the Goldmans struggle to make him pay and can’t get justice. And there are plenty of other examples.
But “Death Sentence” doesn’t quite capture that emotion. Instead of getting pure vengeance, we get speeches about how revenge never works and how things “don’t balance out.” Bacon cries and whines, “How do I make it end? How do I stop this?” Spare me the moralizing and guilt. I go to the movies to see the job get done in fantasyland that doesn’t get done on America’s streets, police precincts, and courts in real life.
We want Bacon to succeed in murdering them all and get away with it with his family intact. But in this one, we don’t get what we want. Not even close.
Sometimes vengeance is good. Revenge is underrated. Often, it is not only deserved. It is necessary. The system fails far too often. And many of us cheer when the likes of Bernard Getz give the “change” the gang members “ask for” on the New York subway (he’d been mugged before, with no police response). They asked for it. And they got what they deserved.
Hollywood just can’t handle that truth.
Entertaining enough, but with the wrong message. Go rent Charles Bronson’s 1974 classic instead.

* “2 Days in Paris“: Adam Goldberg plays my favorite of his characters–Adam Goldberg. It’s the same character he plays in every movie he’s in, these days. You know–the arrogant, annoying, irritating, snarky, cheerless guy, who is enormously funny. Finally, in this movie, it has its proper place as a lead character. Though, I did not need to see so many, repeated full-frontal naked shots of him. The guy has an exhibitionist problem, it seems.
Goldberg is the non-French speaking American boyfriend of Julie Delpy’s Frenchwoman who has moved to America. Their Italian vacation is ruined, and she promises to make it up to him with a trip to Paris, where her family lives. They stay in an apartment on the upper floor of her non-English-speaking parents’ residence. There, Goldberg must contend with encountering his girlfriends’ many past boyfriends and flings, her tactics to embarrass him, and her annoying family and friends.
Although there are several unnecessary, irrelevant, snarky attacks on President Bush, Vice President Cheney, the War in Iraq, and Guantanamo Bay, there is an upside to this movie. Though annoying–as Delpy and most of the French are–the movie makes fun of the French, big-time. They are silly, stupid, sex-obsessed, boorish, anti-American, anti-Semitic, and annoying. Everything is about sex, from their art, their photos, their conversations, their jokes, their conversations at the family dinner table. And they are an unduly arrogant lot. Everything you hated about the French–and everything which tears down their undue contempt for Americans–is personified in this film.
Did not like the filthy “humor” and some of the conversation, and I hated the cheesy ending. But it was still funny and entertaining. That’s for sure. The “ugly American” ain’t so ugly compared to the ugly Frenchwoman.
Okay for an arthouse film by an annoying actress from France who thinks she’s Wood Allen in a skirt.
* “Balls of Fury“: See from Wednesday. One thing to add. I did learn something from this movie after all. In a running Chinese vs. White, Caucasion theme in the movie, the Chinese constantly call the main character (a White guy) “Gwai Lo” (sp?) and “round-eye” (nice racist slur). Had never heard either of these before. As for the rest of the movie, too dumb, but not dumb enough. Again, .

* “Halloween“: Wimped out of screening this Rob Zombie remake of the 1978 John Carpenter cult classic and cannot review.

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13 Responses

Thanks for the “heads-up” Debbie. I’m not one to see remakes made of classics; especially in this day where hollyweird will emasculate it into a weepy, spineless waste of film.
Films about an American and a French chick? BFD…is that akin to sleeping with the comrade?
“Balls of Fury”?…more like balls of jello to match the fat kid’s baggage.
I used to enjoy going to GOOD movies but I refuse to pay egregious prices for liberal, feel good BS. I don’t have to rent it either when it hits Blockbuster 2 months after its release because it bombed at the box office.

1shot1kill on August 31, 2007 at 1:59 pm

I agree with that. There’s no point in watching the death busters forcing their feel good only-relevant-when-they-say-so agendas down my throat. Oh by the way, I didn’t know Rob Zombie even did the remake. But he hates america anyways…he was in some movie he made playing in a role and wearing a shirt saying “burn this flag”. I’m seroius about that, but I don’t know which movie was it!!

Squirrel3D on August 31, 2007 at 2:14 pm

Debbie – great review. I’ll be sure to avoid this bastardization of such a classic film. Charles Bronson was the man – ever see Raid on Entebbe? I was in that airport on business to Uganda – it was just plain erie after seeing a History Channel production on the show as well as the Bronson movie on it.
Hollywood’s pansie proseltyzation is seen in many movies out today. Like you, I enjoy movies where citizens get fed up with being pushed around by thugs and take matters into their own hands because the system is more concerned with protecting the rights of criminals than victims. We need some of these people here in my hometown of Cleveland, just as you do in Detroit.

JasonBourne81 on August 31, 2007 at 2:17 pm

When i saw that you reviewed a Death Wish remake, i thought you were referring to the new Jodie Foster movie. Guess there are 2.

airy anne on August 31, 2007 at 2:41 pm

“I learned that “Gwai Lo” (sp?) means “round-eye” in Chinese and is a racist slur used against Caucasians by some Chinese.”
Gweilo doesn’t mean ’round-eye’, it means “ghost”. It’s not a reference to caucasian’s eyes, but their skin.

Hector on August 31, 2007 at 4:39 pm

I was planning on seeing Halloween today, however, since school is still out I figured it would be packed with noisy teenagers, thus I’ll hold off until they are back in school. I know the reviews are bad but I can’t resist seeing it.

Freudianslippers on August 31, 2007 at 5:32 pm

PS: I did see “Death Sentence” and it was sorely lacking in character development. The best thing about the movie was the two muscle cars.

Freudianslippers on August 31, 2007 at 5:33 pm

that’s funny, Gweilo also means ‘goodbye’ to the Chinese delivery guy that comes to our shop all the time.

steve ventry on August 31, 2007 at 8:36 pm

I read somewhere that Rob Zombie’s remake of Halloween was filmed on the streets of Baghdad.
There’s absolutely no difference between the gratuitous gore in that film and the barbaric behavior of the members of the Religion of Peace – the beheadings, dismembering, bombings, torture, blood, gore, etc.

Thee_Bruno on September 1, 2007 at 7:48 am

Two of my favorite cult movies from the 1970’s – Death Wish and The Warriors. I saw the first Death Wish in Manhattan in late 1974 with a friend of mine and we loved it so much we sat through it twice! The sequels though were appallingly bad.

Ripper on September 2, 2007 at 8:17 am

Just a slight correction about the original Death Wish:
When the Bronson character comes home after his first foray into vigilantism he runs to the bathroom and vomits into the toilet.
The original Death Wish (not the sequels) is a much more thoughtful and moral movie than many seem to think it is. I think it gets a bad rap. I also think it’s one of Bronson’s best performances. Bronson was not known as the greatest of actors, but I think he captured the characters motives and justification for what he did very well. He didn’t just turn into a killing machine. He did what he thought was right, and he really was right.

Jaynie59 on September 2, 2007 at 4:58 pm

I read an interview with Bacon about the movie where he says basically, “In the end there is no difference between the two characters except 30 years. They are two sides of the same coin”

What a load of crap. Liberals ruin everything in the end…even the movies I love.

Scott on February 7, 2010 at 12:50 am

Watching the movie tonight on FX, Kevin Bacon is a great actor…

discount realtor on February 13, 2010 at 8:17 pm

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