[CHECK OUT OUR DEATH WISH 3 PODCAST HERE]
Death Wish (the first) is an undeniable classic, derided in some circles as “fascistic” (as if wanting to avenge the murder of your wife is some impulse that exists purely in the realm of speculation).
Those people get their vigilante kicks from Batman, which is Death Wish-lite.
Politics aside, Death Wish 3 further erodes the legacy of its progenitor and proved that the series had far much farther to fall. (Who knew after the stench left from Death Wish 2?) And this thing stinks like so much garbage in an East New York Brooklyn alleyway.
Now, Paul Kersey is back in The Big Apple and apparently down on his luck too. What person of his means would take a lowly bus into New York’s Port Authority?
He goes to visit the series’ heretofore unmentioned “best friend” Charlie, only to find he’s been beaten and left for dead. Kersey is immediately hauled into the police station, despite lacking a motive. With the lousy homicide clearance rate of police forces in the Death Wish movies, perhaps cops just bring anyone even remotely related to a crime scene into custody, hoping that charges will stick?
He’s offered a deal by a police big-shot: work for law enforcement as a hitman-for-hire or face jail-time as “the vigilante,” an unbelievably slipshod and dunderhead premise that actually does fit the epithet “fascistic.”
He’s given carte-blanche to waste anybody even remotely related to the drug trade, and unlike the reticence to take matters into his own hands in the ambiguously dark first Death Wish, he relishes in his street justice. (It’s creepy how he describes the firepower of each weapon he’ll use to blow away the usual 80s assortment of extras from The Warriors.)
Death Wish 3 is marred by the imprimatur of Cannon. There’s a hopelessly ridiculous scene with elderly Russians allowing their place to be booby-trapped with a nail board, and a World War II vet offering use of his giant Browning machine gun (!) to blow away street toughs. Maybe the latter’s appropriate though: Death Wish 3 has a higher body count than Saving Private Ryan.
There’s also the endlessly captivating dialogue like “Chicken’s good. I like chicken,” when Kersey accepts an offer of a home-cooked meal from his public defender love interest (and her interest in him stands out as perhaps the stupidest conceit of the whole film — and that’s REALLY saying something as the film’s finale shootout is one of the stupidest things in recent memory).
Jimmy Page once again supplies the keyboard-heavy soundtrack awfulness, and this one really goes down like a lead balloon.
** (out of 5)