Tagline: No Judge. No Jury. No Appeals. No deals.
Entire Story in Fewer Words than are in this sentence:
Bronson loses umpteenth love interest, resumes human slaughter.
Like the other installments of the Death Wish series, virtually none. In fact, we see more exposed female breasts in the first ten minutes than we do in any of the other chapters combined. Although Bronson wines and dines his fiancée (Lesley-Anne Down) and even makes out with her on several occasions, we don’t actually see him get laid. However, he does spend a good thirty minutes of screen-time driving around in his Jeep Grand Cherokee leering at bad guys. Also, one of the principal villains is a cross-dresser with a bizarre and irrelevant skin condition. I suppose that’s got to count for something.
A paltry ten, but they are almost all novelty deaths accompanied by one-liners. We witness people getting shot, electrocuted, hot-ironed, shrink-wrapped, disfigured, blown up, run over, and poisoned. Yes, poisoned! Bronson varies his killing techniques enough to actually dispatch somebody with a cyanide-laced cannoli.
How bad is it really?
Fucking terrible— the worst of the entire series. Granted, the plot tries to be a few shades deeper than a mere tale of Bronsonian retribution, but it nevertheless ends up falling flat on its exhausted, overused ass. Nothing about this movie makes any sense whatsoever and much like its younger siblings (omit Death Wish 3), Death Wish 5 is truly a daunting task to sit through. The dismal corpse count and contrived acting are enough to put even the most dedicated fan to sleep. What pained me the most, however, was watching a seventy-three year old Bronson hobble through the scenes as a sad mold of his former self. White-haired and approaching death, he is unable to wield anything mightier than a puny, snub-nosed revolver.
Essentially, Bronson is set to marry Manhattan fashion designer, Olivia Regent, when her company is extorted by the mob. Oddly enough, the mob, as in Italian mafia, is headed by an Irishman named Tommy O’Shea. When Olivia agrees to testify against O’Shea she is beaten, mutilated, and later shot in the back. Unable to cooperate with the incompetent district attorney, Bronson once again carries out his own form of swift and predictable vengeance. Utterly fucking boring vengeance I might add. The most disheartening aspect of the film is that it was Bronson’s last.
Stupid Political Content:
What content? Sure, stupid chiefs had made the transition to the 90s, but Bronson’s return to apolitical vigilantism was a mammoth snoozer.
This is where Death Wish 5 excels. Bronson delivers pre and/or post-mortem one-liners in almost every death sequence. After poisoning one of the mobsters in an Italian bakery, Bronson confronts his dying victim as if to help him and asks, “You got a problem, buddy?” Then he pushes the mobster’s face into a pile of half-eaten cannolis. Somehow, it takes several minutes of choking and slobbering for the man to expire, despite the fact that a good dose of cyanide typically kills somebody almost instantly.
The best pre-mortem one liner occurs when Bronson disarms and manhandles O’Shea at the end of the film. After forcing O’Shea to beg for his life, Bronson drags him over to an open pit of acid. Now before I get to the one-liner, why the fuck was there an open, unguarded pool of acid in a textile warehouse? I mean, not even so much as yellow tape was there to warn the migrant workers of possible danger. No Peligroso! signs. Nothing. Absolutely ludicrous. Anyhow, Bronson says, “It’s time for a bath,” before plunging O’Shea into the acid where he proceeds to writhe and moan for a longer duration than the T-1000 at the end of Terminator 2. I half expected him to grow two heads.
The best post-mortem one-liner occurs after Bronson uses a remote controlled soccer ball to blow up the cross-dressing, dandruff-laden hitman. Just after detonating the ball, Bronson says, “looks like I cleared up that dandruff problem,” or some such nonsense while he watches the hitman’s body smolder and turn to ash.
If it’s not the cannoli, it has to be when the mobsters kill the obese foreman of the textile warehouse. The death itself is nothing exciting (they simply hit him with a car), but it’s the way it happens that makes it memorable. The foreman is easily pushing 350 glorious American pounds and when the mobsters hit him head-on with what appears to be a small two-door Chrysler, the impact catapults tubby twenty feet into the air, smashing him through a restaurant window as horrified onlookers flee for their lives. That said, it wasn’t as absurd as the cannoli.
What you learned:
Charles Bronson, bless him, has made some truly awful films.