Death Wish 3 (1985)
With quasi-police acceptance a vigilante (Charles Bronson) cleans up a rough neighbourhood.
Oh boy, what a strange movie. It’s scary this was made by adults as it depicts the world view of a five-year-old. There isn’t even the slightest hint of reality. It’s naive to a stunning degree with ludicrous thugs and useless law enforcement that are better at harassing the honest citizens than in dealing with the street scum. The thugs openly harass, rape and murder with impunity while also looking incredibly silly with face paint and costumes. It’s conceptually, artistically and technically incompetent and clumsy. Michael Winner has no taste and so the whole thing is a parade of bad taste. The visuals are ugly. He loved distorting wide-angle lenses, putting objects in foregrounds and cheesy zooming. The camera zooms a lot in this film. It looks grotesque and amateurish. Also the editing was sometimes a bit choppy. The music (by very talented Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page) is hideous and deeply unsubtle. It’s a perfect package of horrible music, ugly visuals and childish thinking.
The script is dumb and clunks like crazy with bad dialogue. The action climax goes on so long it becomes almost tedious as there’s no plot development happening; and it’s not like it’s inventively filmed or the kills are clever.
There is a slight romantic subplot buried briefly in the film. It’s a half-arsed obligation the makers obviously weren’t interested in. The female character is given bizarre dialogue and actions (she travels by taxi to meet Bronson and asks him out on a date after only once briefly meeting him and exchanging about two non-flirtatious words in the police station). She is then cruelly killed in a cynical way (in a ludicrous fireball car crash that was so over the top I laughed out loud) and not referred to again as she’s forgotten as an irrelevance. It’s not a feminist movie.
Bronson is competent, and strangely charismatic, as a tough guy even though he’s too old and creaky to be convincing as someone who can beat up so many thugs in hand to hand combat. My distaste for the movie doesn’t come from a wishy-washy liberal ‘let’s all hug the criminals’ point of view. My issue is just that it’s so supremely silly and too farfetched with zero hints of real world complexities. The main cop even starts running around the streets shooting thugs with Bronson at the end. The thing is: it’s so jaw-dropping-ly bizarre and comic book simplistic with a truly weird worldview that it becomes entertaining just for how bad it is. It’s almost so bad it’s good. There’s a decent pace to it as well, which is always helpful to make a film painless to sit through. It was bad, very bad, but it was also entertaining for being so gonzo with its crudeness. It plays like Michael Winner’s perverse sexual fantasy that combines politics and violence.
ITV4 today in HD at 10.55pm-12.45am.
You have to see it for yourself.