Death Wish

Michael Winner’s Death Wish (1974) is artless, cynical garbage, advancing a misanthropic view of American cities in which disenfranchised people roam the streets like savages, raping, looting, and killing as though it were all they knew how to do. This lays the groundwork for the action classic’s crude celebration of vigilante justice, which shows how one good guy with enough brute force can clean up the city. Playing the good guy, Charles Bronson projects little charisma, and his unfeeling performance works hand in glove with Winner’s clodhopper direction. Winner wants his viewer to cheer for Bronson as he hunts down and murders criminals, but given the lack of emotional investment behind and in front of the camera, one might as well be rooting for a machine. (Indeed many reviews of Death Wish and its four sequels describe Bronson’s character as a “killing machine.”) Continue reading>>