Death Wish (1974)

Genres - Action, Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Urban Drama, Action Thriller  |   Release Date - Jul 24, 1974 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 93 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Michael Costello

Michael Winner's bloody revenge thriller turned longtime character actor Charles Bronson into a superstar, but despite its stylish photography, it's a routine genre film. The story concerns an architect (Charles Bronson) who is transformed into a vengeful killer after his wife (Hope Lange) is murdered and his daughter raped. Like Dirty Harry (1971), Winner's ugly fantasy tapped public fears aroused by the rising crime rates of the period. The stoic, granitic face of Bronson was the one that audiences wanted to show to criminals. Most of the film is set in a bleak, stripped-down New York, which becomes a shooting gallery populated only by Bronson and the various muggers and thugs that are his targets. Like Clint Eastwood in his star-making role in A Fisful of Dollars (1964), the actor has little to do besides glower menancingly and shoot, but Vince Gardenia is excellent as the cop in pursuit of the gun-crazy architect. Although source author Brian Garfield was publicly critical of the film's violence, the character became Bronson's franchise, and he would go on to star in a series of sequels.