Over the weekend, my girlfriend and I treated ourselves to a movie. This isn’t uncommon, as we practically live at the various theaters around Dallas. We see a lot of what Hollywood throws at us. Some of it is decent, some of it is just awful, but every now and again we’ll get a gem.
I can tell you now that “Death Wish” was the first movie I’ve seen in a long time that had me mentally skipping out of the theater in joy.
Before I begin to gush over this film and why you need to go see it yesterday, I want it to be known that I do not promote vigilante justice, and this movie has a lot of it. The last thing I want to do is make you think I’m signing off on grabbing a gun and cleaning up the streets with you serving as judge, jury, and executioner. There’s a reason we have a court system, and it’s to prevent someone with an odd sense of right and wrong from thinking that someone he disagrees with is evil, and deserves to die purely because he didn’t vote for X, or doesn’t think high-speed rail is the future.
Also, spoilers are ahead. Proceed with caution.
The premise of the movie is that trauma surgeon Paul Kersey (Bruce Willis) spends his days and nights saving lives at a hospital in Chicago, one of the deadliest cities in America. Kersey deals a lot with gunshot wounds and treating them both in innocent patients, and criminals. One day, Kersey is called into work, leaving his wife and daughter alone in his nice, quiet, suburban home. While he’s away, the house is invaded by burglars who proceed to steal valuables from Kersey, then after a series of unfortunate events, shoot his wife and daughter.
The loss of his wife and near-loss of his daughter, who survives by pure chance, drives Kersey into a fit of vigilante justice wherein he wanders the streets, killing people who seek to harm others, all while doing what the police can’t do to find those responsible for his family being torn apart.
It sounds like a run of the mill man movie, but it’s not. It’s also a love letter to gun-owning Americans. Furthermore, there are important lessons the movie imparts.
For one, it shows the ease with which Kersey attains an illegal pistol, and his illegality is an important part of the message; the bad guys are armed, and can easily become so. Not being armed will not save you. Furthermore, the movie highlights the shortcomings of law enforcement all the while. It shows how they are naturally limited by procedure, and the movie highlights how when seconds count, the police are minutes away.
Kersey’s vigilante rampage culminates in some unforeseen fallout. He puts his brother under suspicion by police, and his internet fame as the “grim reaper” causes others to copy him, resulting in the death of a well-meaning man. His near brush with being caught by police and ruining both his future, and the future of his daughter causes him to see his error despite his feelings of helplessness, failure, and rage.
“I did everything I was supposed to!” Kersey says to his brother, choking back tears as he expresses his guilt of failing to protect his family, and how being the unarmed pacifist he was lead to that failure.
But if the left hated the movie up to now, it’s at this point where their heads explode.
Instead of learning the lesson the left wishes he would, and swearing off guns altogether, Kersey finally takes the legal route. He purchases several weapons, going through the requirements mentioned to him previously by the gun store employee earlier in the movie. When the bad guys attempt to invade Kersey’s home again in order to finish what they started, he defends his home with firepower, and to great effect. Kersey wins, and he uses legally purchased guns to do it.
The good guy with the gun wins. It’s a quietly recurring news item that the left cannot tolerate, and they made their displeasure known. Movie critics are hammering the flick as a horrible piece of pro-gun, pro-masculinity propaganda. It currently sports a 17 percent from critics on Rotten Tomatoes, with each sneering review sounding more elitist than the last. They call it a “fantasy,” while complaining that the movie is “ill-timed” so close to the Parkland shooting.
However, a quick glance at the audience reviews tells a different story. America gave the movie an 84 percent rating, with 5 and 4 stars littering the page. The movie, according to America, is just what the doctor ordered in the midst of so much ridiculous left-leaning sentiment and taste.
I’ll let you peruse all the criticisms and praise yourself, but I want to address the criticisms that stuck out to me the most. As I said, critics called the movie “ill-timed.” I disagree. America NEEDS this movie, and with the Parkland shooting as the backdrop to this movie’s release, the message this movie carries is the most realistic one available, and it’s effective.
This was best exhibited to me by the reaction of my gun-nervous girlfriend as we walked out of the theater. As I was gushing about how amazing the movie was, she was quietly telling me how it scared her. Upon asking why, she expressed that the idea that people could so easily get you at your most vulnerable somewhat shocked her.
“That’s the world,” I responded. “It’s not a safe place. That’s why I’m armed and keep a gun for home defense nearby.”
Usually, when I say something like that, I receive some pushback. This time I didn’t. She didn’t protest, and for the first time seemed glad of it. The movie had gotten a message across to her that I couldn’t with words and stats. That gun is the line between us and tragedy, and it’s a perilous line to cross. It’s the best device I have that lends to her safety.
And therein lies the importance of this movie. Critics are calling it a “fantasy,” but home invasions and violent criminals are not fantasy. We lock our doors because we want to keep bad people out. We stay in well-lit areas at night and avoid questionable locations because evil does lurk among us. Sometimes, you can’t avoid it. It comes to you. Whether you come out on top when it does, or fall victim is oftentimes a matter of being prepared for it.
Death Wish shows both sides of this coin and makes it very apparent that being prepared for trouble with the best self-defense measures possible will result in you and your family likely walking out of the situation alive and well.
It shows you that guns solve very real problems, and that oftentimes the guy behind it isn’t some dumb, paranoid yokel. He’s a concerned dad, or a protective mother. Just normal people from anywhere and everywhere.