Friday 26 December 2014

15 Second Review: Death Wish 2

In the documentary Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films, several commentators have less than glowing things to say about Michael Winner. He is accused of including rape "just to get his rocks off" as well as being a "pathologically brutal, strange, sadistic, insecure, egotistical character". Death Wish 2 evinces the point, but not (only) because of its appalling sexual politics. Winner makes a habit of placing the camera behind objects: desks, plants, picture frames, anything to needlessly obscure the audience's view of the characters. Consequently, the camera lurks, voyeuristically spying on the events. I suspect the technique was meant to be unsettling, as if "someone is always watching, ready to pounce" (i.e. mug or take revenge on the populace). Instead, it feels more like the viewing position is that of a creepy little man who chuckles with glee while people are harmed. Death Wish 2's tone is thoroughly seedy as a result, thus corroborating Winner's reputation. Nevertheless, his strange directorial choice is certainly the most interesting aspect of a film that somehow manages to be dull and offensive simultaneously.Thus, Death Wish 2 laid the groundwork for Death Wish 3's onslaught of class and race-based intolerance. It also mysteriously concretized Bronson's standing as an action star, despite being entirely unsuited to and ill-equipped for the role. Perhaps Death Wish 2's real legacy is the acceptability of aging action stars in mainstream Hollywood today.  

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