First of all, I am probably not the right person to review Death Wish 3, because this movie is somewhat special to me personally. It is now March 23rd 2010, and thinking back, I guess it was in 1986 when I first saw this movie. Let me tell you a little bit about the experience. Please bear with me. I promise that I will comment on the actual movie in the end.
My family was visiting my uncle and aunt. It was a weekend and they had a VCR (it stands for "video cassette recorder", for the benefit of the younger readers), so it was natural and common to rent a movie for the evening entertainment. So me, my uncle and my father went to a local video rental shop.
I had seen some Charles Bronson movies and liked them, but I was still pretty inexperienced when it came to the action movies. I was only a beginner, having no experience with really horrifying movies. In any case, Death Wish 3 had just been released on VHS video, and I was determined that we should rent it. Initially, my uncle objected, saying: "I would prefer stuff like James Bond. There's some harmless violence in those movies."
I could not be persuaded by his arguments, and after some hesitation, we eventually picked Death Wish 3, just like I wanted. There is actually a deeper point to be made here: Is the "harmless violence" in James Bond movies and the like really that harmless? I think it could in fact be more harmful than the explicit violence in the movies where the grisly consequences are graphically shown. Why?
Well, simply because the James Bond kind of "harmless violence" is totally unrealistic. People get beaten and kicked, but nothing bad actually happens to them! You only hear stupid smacking sound effects, and the victims occasionally fall only to rise again with more determination than ever! It is actually fucking pathetic. In reality, when people bang your head with fists, you will not survive without considerable damage. However, the so-called harmless violence in the James Bond style movies deceives you into thinking that the effects of violence are not that bad. Personally, I think that message is more harmful than movies that portray violence in a realistic way.
So, what was the movie like? For me, Death Wish 3 is an okay action movie. I remember it with much fondness, because it is one of the first violence packed action movies I have seen. Death Wish 3 is not exceptional, but as a simple action movie, it just works. This time the plot is again similar to the first two movies: Something bad happens to the people that are close to Paul Kersey, and the revenge mission commences.
The bodycount is incredibly high, as Kersey starts to use really heavy weapons in his endless combat against the gangs and criminals. It is actually quite hilarious to see Kersey operating a Second World War machine gun on the streets. It is obvious that the makers of Death Wish 3 wanted to top the action in the previous movies, and in some sense they succeed. On the other hand, this movie lacks almost all of the emotional elements that are evident in the first two movies. This movie is so much centered around the action that the character development suffers.
All in all, I cannot condemn this movie. If you enjoy straight-ahead, no nonsense action, Death Wish 3 provides that and you will probably get good laughs when watching it.