Kevin Bacon stars as Nick Hume in James Wanís third feature film (as director) which is based on a novel by Brian Garfield, writer of the similarly themed Death Wish.
The film begins as Nickís teenage son Brendan is murdered as part of a gang initiation. When Nick discovers that his sonís killer will serve a maximum of three years behind bars he decides to take the law into his own hands. What follows is a very brutal war between two families, each after vengeance.
Death Sentence is a step in a different direction for Wan. Whilst the film is not really a horror film, it is horrific. It is also very violent, brutal and gory but so is real-life. The seriously underrated Kevin Bacon is once again excellent here as a man hell bent on revenge and equally impressive is main bad guy Garrett Hedlund as gang leader Billy. The supporting cast all play against type and shine whilst doing so, so kudos to Wan and the casting directors for allowing Aisha Tyler to play a no nonsense cop and John Goodman to play a hard ass weapons dealer.
The film is shocking from start to finish but is also deeply moving, thanks especially to Kelly Prestonís supporting role. I also liked the fact that Baconís character is ultimately thrust into his predicament completely by accident and his character develops at a reasonably believable rate. Heís not a businessman by day gun toting vigilante by night. Heís an ordinary hardworking guy who is forced into action when the system fails him and he does so realistically, fumbling with weapons, nearly dying on multiple occasions and all because he wrestles with guilt over not being able to protect his family.
On a stylistic level, the film showcases some neat photography with some very cool camera angles, great set design (look out for Billy) and it is also backed by another fine score from Charlie Clouser.
I genuinely feel bad for Wan with Dead Silence only managing an exclusive (and very limited) theatrical release here in the UK and an apparent lack of interest for this film. People are missing out on what will no doubt become a seriously underrated gem (much like its leading man) in years to come.