1973 - when I started asking questions, like, "Why are we all dressed so funny?"

Sunday, October 18, 2015

DEATH SENTENCE - Almost as good as Sharknado!

Good Heavens!  Rating: 3 out of 5 amputations below the knee

Still of Kevin Bacon in Death Sentence (2007)
Where does one even begin? This is perhaps the funniest movie I've seen since Sharknado!  Granted, with the shark film, I had already braced myself for absurdity but with Death Sentence, I had no idea what kind of film I was getting myself into.

The premise is intriguing: a father witnesses his son getting killed in a random act of gang violence, and decides to take the law into his own hands. This could go in multiple directions, all of them interesting. Moral complexity? Well, the raw material is there but you won't find it here.

What you will find is Kevin Bacon as a kind of Clark Kent miraculously transformed into The Terminator. Professionally, he works for a corporation and seems to be responsible for -- risk management! The film is politely incoherent and all the bad guys get wiped-out (this was not a surprise once I realized the film was not serious).

Special effects are from the George Romero School of Film: a dead cop in the car who has a fountain of blood streaming from his neck; one gang member flies in the air 30' when a car hits him and he's doing just fine in the next scene; another gang guy loses the lower 2/3 of his leg below the knee after a blast from Bacon's 12 gauge shotgun in a moment that is reminiscent of the knight fighting scene from Monty Python's Holy Grail. Rich stuff.

The award for best contrived scene surely goes to the rooftop garage scene where Bacon wraps a seat-belt around a bad guy's neck and the car -- defying gravity as it propels itself up a slope! -- flies off the 3rd level and onto the ground. Sheesh, sometimes seat-belts don't save lives! 

There's also a great chase around the house almost as funny as Inspector Clouseau versus Cato in The Pink Panther Strikes Again. The highlight is when Bacon literally pulls the rug from under a bad guy right before he blasts him.

Best unfathomable moment is after Bacon has shot up the town and returns with his rat-scalped self to his now empty house (he has succeeding in getting his wife killed). The lady detective shows up with a convoy of cop cars to his house to ... tell him his remaining son is going to be okay! No arrest, no lecture about going on a killing spree, just good news. Holy Implausibility, Batman! 

Not to be missed: the scene where Bacon shaves his head badly and at the same time plays with various guns and ammo. It lasts about ten minutes but the haircut is worth every second.

Look, I know Kevin Bacon, John Goodman, and, yes, Renee Russo all need to make a living, but is this sort of thing really necessary.

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