- Movie Rating -

Death Wish II (1982)

| February 19, 1982

Death Wish II is one of the ugliest, most artless pieces of indifference that I have had the opportunity to witness.  It is clearly a movie made for cynical reasons by people who want to give the potential audience the bare minimum, take their money and be done with it.  Personally, I was just happy to be done with it.

The film, obviously, is a sequel to Death Wish that controversial 1974 movie in which Charles Bronson played Paul Kirsey, a mild-mannered architect whose home is invaded by a gang of punks who murder his wife and rape his daughter.  The fallout was that Kirsey became a one-stop vigilante, murdering muggers on the street with a hand-cannon and became a hero to the people and a problem for law enforcement.

That film had something, a social message that spoke to the moment.  It was the early-70s and crime and urban decay were the breeding ground for someone like Kirsey.  People saw that the rapid upswing in violent crime was being met by a justice system that not only moved at a snail’s pace but was contradictory and often unfair.  So, the movie used the notion of violence met by violence to give the masses a working-class hero.  It was part social commentary and part wish-fulfillment.

The sequel does exactly the same thing, only this time it removes the social commentary and just rides the rails of the wish fulfillment.  Functionally, it does exactly the same thing.  Kirsey has moved on with his life, building a life as an architect but, wouldn’t you know, some punks steal his wallet, invade his home, rape his housekeeper and murder his daughter.

Once again, these events turn him into a one-man vigilante force, tracking down members of the gang and blasting them away with his trusty Beretta.  There is no insight into what such actions do to the ordinary man.  There’s no pseudo-psychology on the part of Bronson’s character that such actions might be wearing him down.  No.  The movie’s intent is to give the audience a vigilante hero without consequences.

None of this would bother me if I thought that there was an intention to make a good movie.  The problem is that nobody had the intention to make a good movie.  Even on the technical level, this movie looks and sounds like garbage, like a cut-rate TV production.  The people behind this movie didn’t even care enough to make a good bad movie.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1982) View IMDB Filed in: Action