Death Sentence **1/2
Directed by James Wan
Written by Ian Jeffers, based on the novel Brian Garfield
Kevin Bacon as Nick Hume
Garrett Hedlund as Billy Darley
Kelly Preston as Helen Hume
Jordan Garrett as Lucas Hume
Stuart Lafferty as Brendan Hume
Aisha Tyler as Detective Wallis
John Goodman as Bones Darley
110 Minutes(Rated R for strong bloody brutal violence and pervasive language. )
"Death Sentence" is probably the most simple and straightforward action movie of the summer-probably even the year. I guess it was its simplicity-just a fed up father avenging death by shooting everybody who was responsible anywhere he can-that is giving it bad write-ups from critics everything. The two papers that are connected to me-New York Post and New York Daily News-both gave it a rating of a one or one and a half, and it is virtually being panned-except by Roger Ebert. I think its because Ebert got the same enjoyment out of it that I did-its just a simple action movie. Action movie fans will get their kicks out of it, and that's why it was made. It wasn't made as a showcase for Kevin Bacon to wow us with a great performance. It wasn't made to tell a complex and complicated story. It was made to tell a story of revenge, and it does it with some pretty neat action sequences. It really is a decent film, and you could do worse with mainstream cinema.
Bacon plays Nick Hume, a strong family man who has his perfect wife, and his two children. When his son Brendan, a high school hockey champion, is killed in a gas station holdup, Nick wants the gang responsible-a group of kids that have a gang where the initiation is to kill a random person-put in jail for life. But since he was the only witness, his lawyer tells him that the chance of life in jail is not possible-maybe three or five years at the most. Nick ends up allowing the kid off at the trail, and decides that he has to take matters into his own hands. But this simple action digs a deeper hole, and Nick is not longer the only one that should fear this gang: but his entire family should be prepared for the worse as well.
There really isn't much to say about "Death Sentence." It does veer into strong melodrama at times-the Kevin Bacon family scenes are a little too perfect, and he doesn't seem to have any flaws at all. There is some mild philosophy, but nothing above the usual revenge ideas-is the revenge bad because Bacon is turning into the people that he hates the most? That sort of thing. There is an odd turn by John Goodman as an arms dealer. I like Goodman a lot, but I his brief work here was a bit sour. I'd say the best scenes were the action scenes placed all around the film. They are grisly and rather intense, and well done. They seem to make sense, and are much more mild than the other intense action film of the summer 'Live Free or Die Hard." I can recommend "Death Sentence" for some of its qualities. It isn't anything special, but its rather effective in what it sets out to do. James Wan-the director of "Saw" and "Dead Silence"-is able to use gore and violence in a way that doesn't seem gratuitous for a change. He isn't the world's greatest director, but he does a decent job here.