This film has one of the best scenes from the ’80s. Bronson arms himself with a .475 Magnum then lures some pissants with a Nikon camera hanging from his back, in the hopes that one will snatch it. When one takes the bait, Bronson eagerly shoots the unarmed man in the back with a bullet designed for killing elephants, in front of dozens of onlookers, then casually strolls home. It’s shit like this should make all manly men Bronson fans. Arnold and Sly had their man-of-violent-retribution eras, but long before them Bronson made a career out of brutal, indifferent psychotic vigilantism. And like a true nut, always done with a straight face. Get ’em, Charlie!
This is yet another movie where Bronson is playing (lets face it) that mentally disturbed vigilante. He has a whole hidden resume of them. But this one is the most violent and outrageous. At times, the film looks like the Tech-Com future battle scenes from the first two Terminator movies. Streets reduced to rubble, anti-aircraft guns fired from balconys. I’m not sure the Mayor of New York at the time would’ve been happy with how this movie made his area look – maybe that’s why they were forced to film much of it in Europe. Death Wish III dispenses with the previous two movies’ inconvenience of having to explain how Kersey gets away with murdering scum. Here, at the start, a corrupt Police Chief tells Kersey (after threatening to kill him in the interviewing room) to have at it – kill as many as he wants. The only catch is that Bronson keep him up to date on the scoreboard. You gotta love the films honesty. Bronson can’t hardly wait and in no time has already purchased a brand new car in the hopes that some thieves will try to steal it. Sure enough the time comes and Bronson has committed his first two murders.
By the end of the film Bronson has killed 52 men using big-game handguns, anti-tank rocket launchers, anti-aircraft machine guns, throwing off roofs. If things were bad in the old neighbourhood before Bronson shows up, they get worse when he arrives: “We got news of a riot coming in from Downtown”. The riot is in actual fact a hot war, instigated by a lone nut hellbent on rubbing up already violent gang members, with Bronson carrying more momentum than John Rambo. This is a place Tony Pope would pay to get into.
In one scene, Bronson examines an anti-tank rocket launcher but disappointingly concludes that it “won’t do much good” against men on the streets of New York, since they’re armor-piercing, not anti-personnel. But then, with a happier glint in his eye, muses: “… unless I can get ’em bunched together”. Clearly not the words or actions of a sane individual. Clearly Paul Kersey is a psychotic. And I fucking love it. But he’s not the only one. By the films end the Police Chief joins Bronson in an orgy of killing in broad daylight. Anyone who even remotely looks like they’re associated with the main antagonist is shot and killed, executed on street corners without question. “No jury” indeed! The film doesn’t even bother with subplots or development. The one ‘mystery’ that the movie attempts to build on, a person by the name of Wildey coming to town, isn’t even a person at all. Its a .475 Magnum that Bronson takes delivery of. This film is like the end shootout from Taxi Driver. On repeat. And on steroids. For 90 minutes.
This is one of the best films of ’85. It actually gives Commando a run for its money. You read that right.