Death Wish

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"Vigilante, city style -- Judge, Jury, and Executioner"
  • R
  • 1974
  • 1 hr 33 min
  • 6.9  (43,773)
  • 51

In the 1974 film Death Wish, Charles Bronson portrays Paul Kersey, a mild-mannered architect living in New York City with his wife Joanna (Hope Lange) and daughter Carol. The film opens with the family taking a vacation in Hawaii, only for tragedy to strike upon their return home. While Kersey is at work, a group of thugs break into his apartment and viciously attack his wife and daughter. Joanna dies from her injuries, and Carol is left comatose.

Kersey attempts to move on with his life, but is haunted by the trauma of what happened to his family. He begins to grow more and more disillusioned with the city he once called home, realizing that crime and violence seem to be everywhere he turns. One day, while visiting a client in a rough part of town, he witnesses a mugger attack a woman in broad daylight. He tries to intervene, only to be beaten up himself.

It's at this point that Kersey decides to take matters into his own hands. He starts carrying a gun with him everywhere he goes, and begins to prowl the streets at night, looking for troublemakers to take out. At first, he's hesitant - he's never been a violent person, and the idea of killing someone doesn't come easily to him. However, as he continues to witness crime after crime, and as he becomes more and more of a vigilante, he starts to feel a sense of satisfaction in taking down the bad guys.

As Kersey's exploits become more well-known, he becomes a sort of folk hero among the citizens of New York, who are fed up with the rampant crime in their city. The police, meanwhile, are torn between admiring Kersey's efforts to clean up the streets and feeling obligated to uphold the law. Detective Frank Ochoa (Vincent Gardenia), in particular, is conflicted. He recognizes that Kersey is doing good work, but he can't allow someone to take the law into their own hands.

The tension between Kersey and law enforcement only escalates as the body count rises. Eventually, Kersey is forced to go on the run when the police begin to close in on him. He flees the city and heads out west, but his thirst for justice (and revenge) is far from sated.

Death Wish was a controversial film upon its release, with some critics arguing that it glorified vigilante justice and violence. However, it was also a commercial success, spawning four sequels and cementing Charles Bronson as an action movie icon. The film's gritty portrayal of New York City in the '70s has become something of a cinematic touchstone, and the idea of a lone vigilante taking on the criminal underworld continues to be a popular trope in action movies to this day.

Death Wish is a 1974 crime movie with a runtime of 1 hour and 33 minutes. It has received moderate reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 6.9 and a MetaScore of 51.

Death Wish
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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 33 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    6.9  (43,773)
  • Metascore