Death Wish (1974)
This weekend I watched the 1974 classic Death Wish. Charles Bronson plays Michael Kersey, a non-violent liberal whose wife and daughter are violently attacked, resulting in the death of one and mentally retarding of the other. The film cleverly depicts his transformation into a vigilante. Having obtained a gun from a business trip to Arizona, he walks around the parks, streets and subways of New York waiting to be mugged; his attackers invariably end up on the ground with bullet holes in them.
The New York Police Department concentrate huge resources into unmasking the vigilante; had they offered so much devotion to hunting his wife's killer, he might never had become this angel of death. The baddies are all young men untidily dressed who move in a jerky manner. Kersey represents an older generation unwilling to put up with yobbish behaviour.
It's an interesting film. Subsequent ones were produced; my favourite is number two, set in Chicago. They reveal much about perceptions of crime in the early seventies and eighties. Deference fell, violent crime rose. The authorities were seemingly ill-equipped to handle it and the films was an expression of this. They were even credited, or rather blamed, for increased vigilante attacks.
It's one of the few 18-rated films I'm prepared to watch. I like its main character. Is he right to do what he does? He dispenses justice when the police are too inept; he never targets the innocent though arguably defends them. On the other hand, he himself breaks the law. He is a mass murderer who denies his victims the opportunities for repentance and reformation.
Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.