Death Wish 3 (1985): Breakdown by Rutledal
Charles Bronson is back and this time he cuts the population of New York in half.
Paul Kersey is back on both the silver screen and in New York (although the movie was filmed in London), when he goes to visit an old army buddy of his. As does everyone else Kersey has ever known, he dies. Unlucky for him but lucky for us, this all happens within the movie’s first five minutes, leaving the remaining eighty minutes for no holds barred, over the top vigilante action. Because that is exactly what this movie is. It takes a 180 from the first two movies and turns Kersey into a complete embodiment of the Reagan era like so many other 80s action heroes.
So upon arrival Bronson finds his friend in a puddle of blood in his apartment and the cops show up two seconds later to arrest him for the murder. Turns out the Inspector in charge of the district recognizes Kersey from his days as a constable during the original vigilante killing spree (from part one). Now you would probably think he’s going to lock Kersey away for good, right? Wrong, he makes him a deal; Kersey can go free if he clears the scum off the streets. This is where the the plot ends, and the crazy begins as Bronson orders a giant hand gun through the mail. The rest of the movie is pretty much a collection of scenes showing Bronson killing people, and it’s excellent.
The movie is filled with a supporting cast so bland they almost vanish completely into the background. But there are a couple of good performances in there from 80’s stock supporting man Martin Balsam, Ed Lauter as the Inspector, and arguably the series’ most memorable villain, Fraker. The movie also features plenty of unneeded comic relief and several times the action suffers from Bronson’s age and slow movements. Strangely, all this just makes the movie more enjoyable. The only thing that isn’t fun is Deborah Raffin as the movie’s under-written, under-played and completely useless love interest character. But more on her later.
The movie is often considered by critics to be the worst entry of the series and by fans to be the best. Personally, I place it in the middle, third out, third best. The movie is a lot of fun despite some glaring flaws and lacking plot, and it’s all because this movie is fucking insane. I mean, I shit you not when I say it ends with a nearly 20 minute continuous shoot-out. It’s an insane over the top shoot ’em up that once again combines the awesome force of Charles Bronson with the awesome guitar riffs of Jimmy Page. If you can’t have fun watching Death Wish 3 then you don’t know what fun is.
Fun fact: The reason that the title is spelled with regular number three and not with Roman numeral like the second movie is because The Cannon Group conducted a survey showing that only half of Americans understood Roman numerals.
[HOW BAD-ASS IS THE MAIN CHARACTER?]
Charles Bronson is once again Paul Kersey
Kersey is back and badder than ever. Just the fact that he uses a gun intended for Elephant hunting to shoot criminals speaks for itself. Once again he is out for revenge and there ain’t nothing stopping him. Also, for the first time we are not exposed to the least badass side of Kersey, his profession as an architect.
[THE BODY COUNT: 101 + A Load Of Unconfirmed]
Bronson rids the earth of another 49 scumbags while the rest of the cast stacks up 52. There is no lack in imagination here as people get shot, stabbed, exploded and even axed to death. During the final scenes there are so many explosions and people on fire that it’s pretty much impossible to say who lives and who doesn’t.
[MOST SATISFYING DEATH]
The movie’s main villain, Fraker, thinks he has just outsmarted Kersey by putting on a bulletproof west. Kersey knows better and whips out his grenade launcher and blows the guy to kingdom come. Indoors.
[DUDESWEAT AND MACHISMO]
I’ve always been a little suspicious about the true nature of the friendship between Charley (Bronson’s dead friend) and Bennet (Balsam), but nothing is ever revealed. Other than that there is nada.
[EXPLOITATION AND MISOGYNY]
Michael Winner, you old, women hating sonuvabitch. You have really overdone yourself with this one. The movie barely manages to fit three minor female roles into the movie and kills them all. There is an old woman who only serves the purpose of getting her throat slit so we can see how evil the villain is; there is Bronson’s love interest who lasts just long enough for Bronson to pork her before she’s killed. Yet none of them comes close to Manny’s wife who gets raped to death, honestly she get raped and then she just dies; but that’s not all, when she is brought to the hospital the doctor says “She’s expired.” That’s right, she hasn’t died or passed away like a person usually does, no. She’s expired, like a gallon of milk. Perfectly personifying the female gender’s role in the Death Wish series.
[EPIC MOMENT AND BEST ONE-LINER]
I honestly had a hard time picking out a single moment from this movie. It is ‘epic’ from start to finish. But since I have to pick just one, I guess it has to be when Bronson begins mowing down criminals with an old fashioned Browning machine gun.
Kersey: It’s like killing roaches – you have to kill ’em all, otherwise what’s the use?
[THE MORAL OF THE STORY]
It think the one liner pretty much summed up the message. Also, Michael Winner REALLY hates women.
[THE CHECKLIST: 13 outta 25]
[ ] Athlete(s) Turned “Actor”
[X] Clinging To The Outside Of A Moving Vehicle
[X] Crotch Attack*
[ ] Dialogue Telling Us How Bad-Ass The Main Character(s) Is/Are
[ ] Ending Featuring An Ambulance, A Blanket or A Towel
[X] Giant Explosion(s)
[X] Heavy Artillery
[X] Improvised Weapon(s)**
[ ] Macho Mode(s) Of Transportation
[ ] Main Character Sports Facial Accessory(s)
[X] Manly Embrace(s) [The bad guys, Not Bronson]
[ ] Notorious Stunt-Man Sighting
[ ] Passage(s) Of Time Via Montage
[ ] Politically Fueled Plot Point(s)
[X] Senseless Destruction Of Property
[X] Shoot Out(s) and/or Sword Fight(s)
[X] Slow-Motion Finishing Move(s)/Death(s)
[ ] Stupid Authoritative Figure(s)
[X] Substance Usage and/or Abuse
[ ] Tis The Season
[ ] Torture Sequence(s)
[X] Unnecessary Sequel [Death Wish 4: The Crackdown]
[ ] Vehicle Chase(s)
[X] Vigilante Justice
* Is rape not the attack of a crotch with another crotch?
**As usual I count home made weapons