Death Sentence - Wan Should Embrace His Inner Cheese

20th Century Fox
Duration: 135min
Category: suspense
Available: On DVD
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James Wan has a problem with follow through. Like his Saw, the first of that series, which started out with some promise and devolved into a disappointment, Death Sentence looks like it might amount to something in the beginning before degenerating into a complete, laughable mess. Unlike Saw which disintergrated into just another teen slasher series, Death Sentence isnít likely to turn into a series. Thank God!

The idea isnít a bad one, even if it is the exact same plot as the writerís other novel, Death Wish. This writer seems to be very creative, even when it comes to titles. Itís the story of a man taking the law into his own hands after the justice system fails him. Okay, not very original but ripe with good potential for pulp story telling.

Anyway, it starts out okay but quickly becomes silly. Wan is never able to create a believable story. His characters act in the way an 18 year old might write them to act. They get from one emotion to another in a very simple manner. The film becomes a series of moments that are so transparent they are completely false. Itís really more about the shoot-em up and if Wan could just embrace that shallowness and stop trying to create emotion when he obviously has no skill in this area, he could make better films.

He does a great job on one action sequence in the middle involving a parking garage. He spends a lot of time on an oh-so-cool single camera shot. However, this doesnít save him from how silly the whole sequence is. It looks great, but he doesnít get past the fact that the hero runs himself into a trap instead of running, much more logically, for help. His characters chew scenery and spit out clichťd lines. They donít act realistically.

The rest of the movie doesnít have such cool shots to try to save it. Wan likes bodies to explode and likes his camera to flow through holes. He thinks this is good film making. Itís just silly really but he doesnít seem to clue in. The film becomes so silly near the end the audience is laughing. A film like this should hurt. Death Sentence is hurting.

While Death Sentence might be fun for a light night of camp if you come across it on TV one night, you shouldnít pay to see it on the big screen or rent it or even VOD it. If you do, you might want revenge against the film makers for putting you through it.

Review By: Collin Smith

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