2007 / Director. James Wan.
Aussie director James Wan followed up Saw with Dead Silence and this, Death Sentence. By the time he made this film he had well and truly honed his skills and introduced himself as an exciting new genre director. With Death Sentence he has masterfully taken an established genre (vigilante) and given it new life. The story is loosely based on Brian Garfield's sequel novel to Death Wish. Kevin Bacon stars as a father with a perfect family. His world is turned upside down when he watches his son viciously murdered as part of a gang-initiation killing. When the killer is set free for lack of evidence, Bacon's character settles the score and kills him. The consequence is retribution and the gang murders his wife and other son. With nothing to lose Bacon gets all Travis Bickle, shaves his head and engages in a brutal and bloody rampage of vengeance. It's natural to compare this with Charles Bronson's Death Wish, however they are thematically worlds apart. Where Bronson's character was heroic and proud, this guy isn't. There is nothing glorious about what he is doing and his very actions cost him everything. The film is made really well and where the first act deliberately manipulates the audience with a contrived happy-snap of a wonderful family-unit, the story quickly defends into a hellish underworld with some brilliantly staged action. A chase sequence through a car park is masterful and the hallmark of a great director. Wan's vision is clear, his film is uncompromising and the performances he evokes from his actors are excellent. It's one of the best vigilante movies out there...check it out.