Death Sentence is a 2007 film loosely based on the 1975 novel by Brian Garfield. The film is directed by Saw director James Wan, and stars Kevin Bacon as Nick Hume, a man who becomes a vengeful vigilante killer after his son is murdered by a gang as an initiation ritual. The film premiered on August 31, 2007. It was filmed at and it took place in Columbia, South Carolina.
The story revolves around Nick Hume, a loving husband and father of two sons, Brendan and Luke. After a hockey
game, Nick and his oldest son Brendan are driving home and flash their headlights at two passing cars with their headlights off. They then make a quick stop at a gas station to get some fuel. While Brendan is getting a smoothie inside, the two cars they passed earlier, containing gang
members about to rob the gas station, arrive. The station owner reaches for his gun, but is spotted by one of the gang members and shot to death. It is then revealed that a new gang member named Joe must prove himself to "become a man", so he slits Brendan's throat with a machete
. Nick attempts to ambush the thugs, and manages to tackle Joe, who was making his escape out of the gas station. Nick pulls off Joe's mask and sees his face, but the murderer escapes and is hit, albeit not killed, by a car. Nick rushes Brendan to the hospital, but he later dies from major blood loss.
Nick later discovers that, if the case goes to court at all, Joe will only get a maximum of a few years in jail for his crime, so he forces the police to drop the case, deeming it a waste of time. Joe, now a free man, becomes the target of Nick's revenge and is eventually stabbed by the enraged father. The gang, led by Joe's older brother Billy, wants revenge for the murder of one of their own. The gang attempts to, and almost succeeds in killing Nick, but he is able to escape while killing one in the process. The police, aware of what is happening, do not take Nick into custody, but grant him protection. The officers watching over the house of the Humes are killed, and the gang members make their way inside, where they shoot Nick, his wife Helen, and his other son Luke.
Nick survives, and learns that Luke did too. After paying a short visit to his son, who is in a coma, Nick escapes from the hospital to go after the remaining gang members. He pays a visit to a person named Bones, a gun shop owner and buys a .357 Magnum revolver, a Colt .45 pistol, and a double barrel shotgun. It is revealed that Bones is the father of Billy and Joe, but Bones allows Nick to carry on with his plans anyway. When Bones attempts to warn Billy of Nick's plans, he is shot and killed by his own son. Later, when Billy arrives at the gang's meeting place, dubbed the Office, it turns out Nick is already there, and has killed some of the gang members. A fire fight breaks out, but ends when Nick and Billy both run out of bullets. They sit next to each other and Billy tells Nick to realize the murderer he has become. Nick then pulls another gun from his jacket and asks Billy if he's ready. Billy responds with a sigh. The next shot shows Nick walking out of the building, implying that he just killed Billy.
When Nick arrives at his house, he turns on the TV to watch the videos of his family. The police arrive and tell him that his son started moving, and that he'll probably make it through. Nick shows a sign of relief and looks back to the TV. It shows Luke, Helen, Nick and Brendan singing on the couch.
Similarities to the Novel
It should be noted that the film is almost completely different than the novel. The novel, a sequel to Death Wish
, deals with Paul Benjamin moving to Chicago, Illinois with a new girlfriend after his daughter dies in a mental institution, and continuing his vigilantism while having to deal with a new, antagonistic vigilante copying Paul's methods for publicity, and has to be stopped by Benjamin. The film, however, is actually a version/quasi-remake of the film adaptation of Death Wish
, while also borrowing elements from the two novels that the movie is partially based off.
On the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes
, 16% of critics gave the film positive reviews based on 91 reviews, as of September 14, 2007. 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 2 1/2 stars out of 4 and remarked that in the 1970s, author Brian Garfield
came to Chicago to research the city because the novel Death Sentence
is set there. Ebert, Jay Robert Nash
, John McHugh and Bill Granger agreed to meet him at the Billy Goat, a restaurant on the lower level of Michigan Avenue
and Garfield dedicated the book to them. Ebert wrote that Death Wish II
was set in Los Angeles, even though Death Sentence is set in Chicago, and wrote "now here at last, in 2007, is Death Sentence
, and it is filmed in, that's right, South Carolina. It doesn't follow the book, either." Ebert continued, "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" and also wrote "Wan's movie is very efficient." Roger Ebert concluded, "There is a courtroom scene of true surprise and suspense, and some other effective moments, but basically this is a movie about a lot of people shooting at each other...
Author Brian Garfield, who wrote the novel the film is loosely based on, stated on his official website that the film is exciting and thought-provoking and said he feels the shooting script is excellent. Garfield said, "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 likes it that, like his novels, but unlike the Death Wish film series, it does not advocate vigilantisism.
This film was released on DVD on January 8
- The original attack started because Nick flashed the gangster's cars because they were driving without lights on. This is based on an old urban legend.
- During the scene when Nick has the junkie call Billy, you can see "Billy the Puppet" from James Wan's Saw films painted on the wall behind Billy.
- Judith Roberts plays a judge named Shaw, which is a reference to Mary Shaw who is played by the same actress in James Wan's Dead Silence.
- When Nick beats the junkie and forces him to tell him where the mental institution is, the junkie says Stygian Street, the exact same street that detectives Tapp and Sing go to apprehend Jigsaw in the first Saw film.
- In the garage chase scene, the crew had to build a hand-held rig which allowed the camera to be passed from one person to the other so that they could film the whole chase in one shot. To compensate, Kevin Bacon had to ride a go cart from level to level to make it seem like he ran the distance in order to catch up with the camera.
- There are several references to James Wan's Saw such as the flickering florescent lights at the drug house.