Ah old Canon films. That familiar logo and the sign of quality as we roll into a gray New York on the bus and finally settle in an abandoned slum inhabited by leather clad punks. Man, it’s about as 80’s as you can get. Also, what is Bill from Bill and Ted’s Excellent adventure doing beating up old men for protection money?
It’s a different kind of start, with the police on Bronson’s case immediately, falsely arresting him and treating us to a jail scene in the first act where he battles an articulate punk that resembles the Kergan from Highlander.
Once Bronson has the blessing of the cops, it’s time to get things started. This film in articular feels more formulaic. We have drug pushing street punks. We know as soon as a girlfriend shows up, she’s going to die. We have an older male mentor. We have revenge for a bit player. A heretofore never-mentioned “old friend” murdered in the first five minuets. It’s all very convenient and formula driven, right up to the swelling music as Bronson looks over his dead friends war medals. The F bombs have increased too.
Seriously though. I’m having a difficult time taking Alex Winter seriously as he tries to be hard.
One of the things this film really gives us though, is a true villian. In previous films, the violence has been more random, and the gangsters scattered; on the run. This time with Tony Spiridakis, we have a villian – a face to the gang. It makes sense too, because t here’s less for us to explre with Paul Kersey in this one. Here, his identity is entirely “The Vigilante”. We’re not even hiding it anymore. There’s no Architect here. There’s no police investigation or mystery, this is The Vilgilante vs. the gangs and that’s it. Automatic weapons and big guns are the order of the day and the body count is at it’s highest.
A couple other notable bit players here. I spotted Ricco Ross. He”s one of these guys I see popping up from time to time – one of the grunts in Aliens, a cop in Wishmaster, and a gangster here. Barbie Wilde (the female cenobite from Hellraiser 2) is in here too. It’s during her punk days and I can’t imagine that look was much of a stretch! Finally, Marina Sirtis from Star Trek the Next Generation shows up as well. She has frizzy hair, a meek personality and is pretty much just a walking prop in this film but it’s an interesting curiosity. Fun fact. I’ve met all three of these people.
Because we’re firmly in the action formula, it’s the biggest, most explosive finale yet and by the end, Bronson’s not alone. Even the citizens of the slum are getting in on the act as the graffitied up neighborhood turns into a war zone.
It leads me to wonder…where do we go from here?