Wow. I’d had a nice little run of seeing some pretty enjoyable movies up until now. Morbid, violently depressing, and oddly unbelievable, Death Sentence left me feeling like I’d been suckered. First let me say that I’m a fan of revenge flicks, but what Death Sentence lacked was a degree of plausibility. Everything about this Kevin Bacon (The Woodsman) flick stretched the bounds of patience.
Bacon plays Nicholas Hume, an executive with the picture-perfect family. He has a loving wife and two good kids. His oldest son Brendan is a star hockey player with a bright future. Things couldn’t be more wonderful, until one fateful night Brendan becomes the victim of a most gruesome crime, a gang initiation murder. When the district attorney tells Nick that his best bet is to hope for 3-5 years for his son’s killer, he decides to dish out his own brand of justice. What follows is a deadly back-and-forth game of “one upsmanship” between Nick and the gang. We want to cheer for Nick, as the loss of his oldest child is both devastating and tragic. However, the movie ventures into ridiculous territory fairly quickly. For example, as Nick literally runs for his life, bad guys fire bullets from close range that magically miss their mark, despite being shot from a distance of about 10 feet. In the beginning of the movie Nick is hapless, defeating his adversaries by sheer luck and resourcefulness. By the end of the movie, he’s some kind of gun-wielding badass, beating people up left and right. I wasn’t buying it. Additionally, the police detective working the case (Aisha Tyler) doesn’t seem too concerned that Nick has taken the law into his own hands. Yeah right! I know it’s a movie, but I don’t deal in foolishness. The one positive thing about the movie was that the beginning portion depicting the aftermath of Brendan’s murder was touching, characterized by the essence of grief and despair. It seemed almost voyeuristic, a glimpse into a family’s very real attempt to cope with the unthinkable. However, one good sequence does not make a movie. An overall downer, Death Sentence is one to skip; a fitting name for a movie that is sure to flop at the box office.