Death Wish 2 (1982) – Review

1/2 Star

Vigilante Paul Kersey (returning star Charles Bronson in arguably his signature role) has moved out west only to find more trouble and scumbags that need eliminating in Los Angeles. After surviving the horrific events of the original film, Kersey and his daughter are attempting to repair their lives when another vicious attack, including the rape and murder of a helpless maid (the picture’s most sympathetic character), sets the lone wolf in action.

This film is a relic from a lost era before the explosion of home entertainment; a time when people paid theater prices for what is essentially an exploitation film in the worst sense. The first Death Wish represented quality 1970’s topical filmmaking, sharply directed by Michael Winner and based on a bestseller from Brain Garland. In keeping with prevalent themes from the time it offered audiences another view of disillusionment and a lack of faith in government agencies. It can even be viewed as a precursor to better films like Taxi Driver and the One Man Army flicks of the following decade. That’s what makes the disappointment in this follow up so great.

Once again architect Paul Kersey dishes out vigilante justice with unblinking determination. The story is essentially a bland retread of the original except this time the action is set in Los Angeles. Much of the running-time is dedicated to stone-faced Bronson stalking his prey and blazing away at the repulsive thugs who raped and killed his daughter and housekeeper. All the while the police remain helpless and confused. The original was a mixture of social commentary, brutality and a touch of melancholy, all of which elevated the story above most of the days’ action fare. This sequel merely exploits violence for the sake of violence. Death Wish 2 is one of the worst films in the Bronson cannon.

Director: Michael Winner
Stars: Charles Bronson, Jill Ireland, Vincent Gardenia

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