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Death Wish

Unlike every Death Wish sequel (and every other movie Bronson's ever appeared in) the original had something to say. Like the original Jaws before it turned into a giant killer shark franchise, it was adapted from a serious novel.

Mild mannered New Yorker Paul (Bronson) returns from holiday with his beautiful wife. Days later his wife and their daughter are followed home by thugs, raped and beaten, leaving his wife dead.

Trying to get on with his life, Paul travels to Arizona for business where he learns that the world wasn't supposed to be like the big city where you have to live on top of every impoverished and opportunistic criminal. He also learns how to shoot a gun, and so returning home and faced again with a city of street crime gone out of control, he turns into the classic movie vigilante, waiting for trouble from muggers and gunning them down.

Pursued at every turn by a police inspector trying to quell the vigilante menace, the film comes as close to the books original spirit (that vigilantism isn't a solution but another problem), but it's a hard sell. You feel Paul's frustration at an overrun system that's destroyed his family and will let countless others be destroyed, and you enjoy seeing the lowest form of humanity get what they deserve.

It prompts thought about vigilantism, criminal behaviour and police resources, but by the first sequel had descended into an orgy of Rambo action that haunts Bronson to this day.

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