|Quantum Geek: Where modern movie mediocrity goes to die, violently!|
After a string of movie collaborations in the early '70s, Winner and late old school action legend Charles Bronson brought us Death Wish, a movie that turned the world on its head, despite its refusal to appeal to the fragile minds and stomachs of naive media darling twatbaskets. You see, if anything the '70s and '80s were a time when socially, sexually and politically empowered people could bitch about issues while outright avoiding the truth behind those issues. Death Wish was the cheap little New York City crime thriller that trolled the fakers, inviting them out to give in to their unchecked anger while attempting to come across as righteous. Whereas Europe and the US loved the movie, the UK tried to brush it under the carpet.
|"For fuck's sake, Pedro! For the last time, NO! I don't want a hotdog!"|
There's no denying how basic the dialogue is in Death Wish, but it's classic Chuck Bronson, and at the same time, there's little issue with this aspect of the movie. The city sights do much of the talking with that smothering sense of claustrophobia, while I don't ever expect street thugs to be able to string together a coherent sentence. What really appeals to me is how simplistic its style of storytelling and progression is. It's so comicbook in its delivery. It needs no plot twists. The cops are morons. They don't want to have to endanger themselves, so rather than clean up the city's criminal population, they become more obsessed with hunting down the lone vigilante that is actually causing crime rates to plummet.
The real issue the more conservative-minded plebs had with Death Wish was that it was explicit for its time. Where Hitchcock and Kubrick liked to sugar their violence with artsy transitions, Winner goes balls-out crazy at times. He doesn't want the street trash to have reasons to have become what they are. They're the dumb and moronic evil that Stephen King writes about, the people of the world that either have no concept of right or wrong, or who outright choose to be as evil as evil can be, because that kind of people do exist. This film sees not only the rotten underbelly of '70s New York laid open for all to see, it also sees an unlikely hero in Bronson's character.
Kersey unwittingly follows the path of the righteous psychopathic serial killer, only to retain his humanity because- A.) At his core he is still the victim, and whereas he may be a criminal, he is not a bad man. He may seek vengeance, but he always acts out of retaliation, and, B.) He is what the city needs. No matter that this is supposed to be a civilised world where we strive to do what's right by peaceful means to an end, there is no end to the criminal element that will kill for a few bucks and/or a cheap thrill. Kersey represents that one man that steps over the line of a system that keeps only those that follow rules in check, the last people the law ought to be worried about.
|"Catch ya later, officer. PEW-PEWWWW."|
Death Wish was not the beginning of the vigilante fad, not by a longshot. The 1972 novel rode in on the tail of a number of other novels exploring the same subgenre. Notably, Mack Bolan aka The Executioner proved very influential with mountains of popular novels over the decades. The vigilante to define all vigilantes, Frank Castle aka The Punisher, was also created and introduced to Marvel Comics before Death Wish, back in February of 1974. But there is no denying that Death Wish was the first movie to send the vigilante mainstream and to instal that archetypal character in the public psyche.
|"Awww, why is nobody trying to snatch my purse?"|
Despite gradually getting worse in production value and becoming overall dumber, Death Wish had four sequels, which is actually astonishing simply for the fact that Bronson was already 53 when he made the first. Winner only made three of them, up until 1985. One year later, The Punisher got his own ongoing solo series and sent comic sales through the roof. Nobody could get enough of the army of one setting out to do what the cops are afraid to do for themselves.
That sentiment was seconded not only by the deadliest of Marvel antiheroes, but by all of your action movie favourites ever since Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Norris, Willis, Gibson, Seagal, Van Damme and Lundgren. After all, the Second Amendment is there to help US citizens to protect themselves from tyranny. If their government won't protect them from acts of terrorism on home soil, somebody has to, and that's where the worlds greatest ever action heroes came to be.
Enjoy Death Wish with a few other classics, as mentioned above, or spend the night with the original three. They get sillier and sillier but I guarantee that you won't find such a fine blend of minimalist drama, hilarious dialogue and messed up violence. Also look out for the ridiculous amount of celeb cameos (Jeff Goldblum, Olympia Dukakis, John Herzfeld, Denzel Washington, Christopher Guest, Laurence Fishburne, Alex Winter, Ricco Ross, told you there was a lot).
|"Ooohhh, Chupa Chups!"|