Death Sentence (2007 film)
Promotional film poster
|Directed by||James Wan|
|Produced by||Ashok Amritraj
|Screenplay by||Ian Mackenzie Jeffers|
|Based on||Death Sentence
by Brian Garfield
|Music by||Charlie Clouser|
|Cinematography||John R. Leonetti|
|Editing by||Michael N. Knue|
|Studio||Hyde Park Entertainment
Baldwin Entertainment Group
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Release date(s)||August 31, 2007|
|Running time||110 minutes|
Death Sentence is a 2007 American drama/thriller film loosely based on the 1975 novel of the same name by Brian Garfield. Directed by Saw director James Wan, the film stars Kevin Bacon as Nick Hume, a man who takes the law into his own hands after his son is murdered by a gang as an initiation ritual. Hume must then protect his family from the gang's resulting vengeance. The film premiered on August 31, 2007, and was released on DVD on January 8, 2008.
Nick Hume (Kevin Bacon) is husband to Helen (Kelly Preston), and father of two boys, Brendan and Lucas. After Brendan's hockey game, Nick and Brendan (Stuart Lafferty), the star of his team, drive home, talking about the latter's potential future as a professional hockey player. They make a quick stop at a gas station to refuel. During what appears to be a robbery of the gas station, Joe Darley (Matt O'Leary), younger brother to gang leader and a new initiate, slices Brendan's throat open with a machete. Nick attempts to ambush the thugs, managing to pull off Joe's mask and see his face, but Joe escapes, only to be hit by a car. Nick rushes Brendan to the hospital, but his son dies from major blood loss.
Nick soon discovers that, if the case goes to court at all, the murderer would only be sentenced to 3 to 5 years in jail for his crime, so he forces the police to drop the case. Joe, now a free man, becomes the target of Nick's revenge; he is eventually killed when Nick stabs him with a rusty knife in Joe's home. The gang leader, Billy Darley (Garrett Hedlund), wants revenge for the death of his younger brother. After discounting members of other gangs as culprits, they learn a gang member's sister happened to see a man in a suit the night Joe died. Quickly realizing it must be Nick, they ambush him the next day, atop a multi-story parking garage. Nick escapes, but takes another gang member's life in the process. Billy warns Nick that they will be coming for his family and that he has bought them a 'death sentence'.
The police detective who's been following Nick's case, Detective Jessica Wallis (Aisha Tyler), is aware of what is happening; she grants Nick's family police protection and has a call-out to Billy's gang. The officers watching over the family are killed in an ensuing raid, and the gang members make their way inside, where they attack and shoot at Nick, his wife Helen, and his remaining son Luke (Jordan Garrett).
Nick and Luke survive, but Helen does not (although this situation with Helen is not shown to the viewers). After Detective Wallis gives a brief speech on how wars are never settled, she lets Nick pay a short visit to his now-comatose son in the hospital, where he apologizes for not being a better father. Nick escapes the hospital to go after the remaining gang members, obtaining guns from a black market gun dealer named Bones Darley (John Goodman). (Darley has been the gang's boss up to this point, and is revealed to be Billy's father.) Nick then tracks down Heco, another member of the gang, and interrogates him about where the other members are, and learns their lair is called "The Office". He forces Heco at gunpoint to call Billy's cell phone, and executes Heco while Billy is listening. Bones confronts Billy and criticizes him, and Billy kills Bones. Nick heads to The Office to kill the remainder of the gang. After an intense shootout, he confronts and shoots Billy in a quick duel which leaves both men seriously wounded. Sitting next to each other, Billy claims that he turned Nick into a vicious cold-blooded killer, just like him. After this, Nick pulls out one of his guns and asks if Billy is "ready", implying that Nick kills Billy after the scene ends.
With his family now avenged, Nick returns home and starts to watch videos of his family. Detective Wallis arrives and tells him that his son has started moving and will live. Nick shows a sign of relief and looks back to the TV, which shows Luke, Helen, Nick and Brendan singing on the couch. Nick is seriously wounded at this point, and it is unclear if he survives in the end (although the unrated cut actually shows him dying).
- Kevin Bacon as Nick Hume
- Garrett Hedlund as Billy Darley
- Kelly Preston as Helen Hume
- Yorgo Constantine as Michael Behring
- John Goodman as Bones Darley
- Aisha Tyler as Detective Jessica Wallis
- Matt O'Leary as Joe Darley
- Leigh Whannell as Spink
- Stuart Lafferty as Brendan Hume
- Jordan Garrett as Lucas Hume
- Zachary Dylan Smith as Young Brendan Hume
- Edi Gathegi as Bodie
- Hector Atreyu Ruiz as Heco
- Kanin Howell as Baggy
Critical reception 
On the review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes, 20% of critics gave the film positive reviews based on 112 reviews. The consensus says, "A nonsensical plot and an absurd amount of violence make this revenge pic gratuitous and overwrought." On Metacritic, the film had an average score of 36 out of 100, based on 24 reviews. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film 2½ stars out of 4. He compared Death Sentence to the Death Wish films starring Charles Bronson, saying: "In the Bronson movies, the hero just looked more and more determined until you felt if you tapped his face, it would explode. In Death Sentence, Bacon acts out a lot more." Ebert called Death Sentence "very efficient", praising "a courtroom scene of true surprise and suspense, and some other effective moments", but concluded that "basically this is a movie about a lot of people shooting at each other".
Scott Tobias of The A.V. Club contends the film is "certainly never boring"; he felt that director James Wan was "too busy jamming the accelerator to realize that his movie's spinning out of control." Matt Zoller Seitz of The New York Times said, "Aside from a stunning three-minute tracking shot as the gang pursues Nick through a parking garage, and Mr. Bacon's hauntingly pale, dark-eyed visage, Mr. Wan's film is a tedious, pandering time-waster." Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly felt that "[t]he morality of revenge is barely at issue in a movie that pushes the plausibility of revenge right over a cliff." Conversely, Justin Chang of Variety called the film "well-made, often intensely gripping". Similarly, Bill Gibron of PopMatters felt the film was "a significant movie" and "a wonderfully tight little thriller". Darren Amner of Eye for Film also gave the film a positive review, praising Bacon's performance in particular: "[H]is portrayal is emotional, sympathetic and highly aggressive. As a father he is touching and as a stone-cold killing machine he is even more convincing."
Author Brian Garfield, who wrote the novel the film is loosely based on, said of the film: "While I could have done with a bit less blood-and-thunder, I think it's a stunningly good movie. In the details of its story it's quite different from the novel, but it's a movie, not a novel. In its cinematic way it connects with its audience and it makes the same point the book makes, and those are the things that count." He also liked that, like his novels, but unlike the Death Wish film series, it does not advocate vigilantism. Garfield further explained in an interview: "I think that, except for its ludicrous violence toward the end, the Death Sentence movie does depict its character's decline and the stupidity of vengeful vigilantism," adding, "As a story it made the point I wanted it to make."
The Region 1 DVD includes two versions: theatrical, rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America, and an unrated version. The DVD's Canadian ratings are 18A and 16 ans (for the Province of Quebec).
- "Death Sentence – Movie Censorship". Movie Censorship. Retrieved 2012-02-21.
- "Death Sentence – Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2012-09-15.
- "Death Sentence (2007): Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 2007-09-14.
- Roger Ebert (2007-08-31). "Reviews – Death Sentence". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2007-09-14.
- Death Sentence – Film Scott Tobias, The A.V. Club, August 30, 2007
- Movie Review – Death Sentence Matt Zoller Seitz, The New York Times, August 30, 2007
- Death Sentence – Movie Review Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly, September 5, 2007
- Death Sentence Review Justin Chang, Variety, August 30, 2007
- Short Cuts – In Theaters: Death Sentence (2007) – Short Ends and Leader Bill Gibron, PopMatters, 2007
- Death Sentence Movie Review (2007) Darren Amner, Eye for Film, 2007
- http://www.briangarfield.net/events.htm Retrieved 2007-09-14
- Historian: Interview with Brian Garfield Nikki Tranter, PopMatters, March 5, 2008
- Death Sentence at the Internet Movie Database
- Death Sentence at Rotten Tomatoes
- Death Sentence at Metacritic
- Death Sentence at Box Office Mojo
- Death Sentence at AllRovi
- Trailer at Yahoo!