Paul Kersey, the soft-spoken family man with the knack for wasting street scum, hoped that, after cleaning an entire neighbourhood in Death Wish 3 (1985), he would hang up his guns, and lead a peaceful life. Nevertheless, more than ever, chaos, panic, and disaster are rampant on the mean streets of Los Angeles, as the unscrupulous drug dealers, Ed Zacharias and Jack Romero, whose rival gangs supply 90% of the narcotics in Los Angeles, exploit the helpless, terrorising everyone with their brutal methods. But, their reign of terror is about to end violently when the innocent teenage daughter of Kersey's girlfriend dies of an overdose. Now, once again, the guns, and, in particular, Paul's stainless-steel Ruger Mini-14 GB-F semi-automatic rifle, have the final say. Who can stand in the way of an angry, terribly dangerous, and armed-to-the-teeth Paul Kersey?Written by
By this time, Cannon Films' overspending and multiple box office flops were rapidly catching up with them, which promptly resulted in the slashing of their film budgets - most famously with SUPERMAN 4, but also with this one. It's extremely cheap-looking; apparently not that much more was spent than B movie companies still in the theatrical business were spending around this time. It leads to a lot of shoddy moments, like an explosion in a restaurant that is clearly superimposed instead of actually filming an explosion taking place there.
There are other goofs, like how you can see the squib-firing cables trailing out of the pantlegs of characters who get shot. Or how a window shatters a second before someone actually runs into it. Clearly, veteran director J. Lee Thompson's heart was not into this movie, possibly because of his advanced age at this point of his career. The action scenes are pretty lifeless, not helped by them being incredibly inept in their editing (by Thompson's son) at times. It's too bad Michael Winner didn't stay with the series. Even given the sometimes questionable decisions in his career (including in this series), he almost certainly would have pumped up the energy here. The only bright spots come from a few unintentional humorous moments - "It's those damn drugs!", a bomb exploding SEVERAL times, or how Cannon relentlessly promoted itself in the video store scene.
Bronson himself doesn't seem very energetic. The screenplay really doesn't give a lot of extraordinary things for him to do or say here. Curiously, the screenplay was written by a woman, and in fact this female touch sets things up in the beginning that actually have a lot of potential. However, the screenplay abruptly changes track and ignores further exploration of these things to become a dumb shoot-up. I wonder if this was actually how it was written, or things during the production resulted in last-minute rewrites or reedits - it would certainly explain how Kay Lenz's character suddenly disappears early on, and doesn't show up again until the last few minutes!
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