DVD Review: Death Sentence

Death Sentence (Fox)

Speaking of played-out genres, the white-collar action revenge fantasy gets another go-round, this time spinning its tread-worn wheels as Saw director James Wan directs Kevin Bacon as Nick Hume, an ordinary, tough-cookie corporate wheeler-dealer who transforms into a vengeful vigilante killer after a gang murders his beloved hockey-hero son in an initiation ritual.

Bacon, as usual, is very good even when he's slumming, and as a trashy B-movie redo of Death Wish the movie works well enough for a Saturday afternoon with a case of brewskies. While running through the usual plot points for a generation that missed them the last time around, it brings only one thing marginally new to the table, a theme that's the antithesis of so many iterations of this plot since the 1970s -- that violence brings only more unnecessary violence, that "an eye for an eye" just leaves everyone with gross-out sockets. That's no great morality tale shocker, but the ending's somber rather than triumphalist tone is a welcome sign of evolution. There's an unnerving creep-out factor in John Goodman as the gun dealer Bones, and Garrett Hedlund as Bones' skinhead son, Billy. Aisha Tyler is the required only-in-Hollywood police detective.

Occasionally the script tries so hard to be so effing tough and "street" that, line by line, it's full of gigglesome, embarrassing moments that lean toward accidental self-parody. "Go with God, and a bag full of guns." "Don't let me smell fear on you. Fear is for the enemy. Fear and bullets. Lot's of f***king bullets." The fact that it's John Goodman saying most of it just barely alleviates the guilt.

20th Century Fox's DVD contains two versions of the film (via branching), with both the R-rated theatrical cut and a new unrated cut that includes 10 minutes of footage "too intense for theaters." We also get some behind-the-scenes featurettes from Fox Movie Channel Presents, plus numerous Webisodes featuring director James Wan, Bacon, "making of" sequences, fight choreography and stunts, and more.