Follow TV Tropes


Film / Death Sentence

Go To
Hardened killers vs an accountant and family man. Guess who wins? No one.

Based on the 1975 novel by Brian Garfield (who also wrote Death Wish) and directed by James Wan, one of the creators of Saw, Death Sentence is a 2007 action thriller revenge film starring Kevin Bacon as Nick Hume, a father who takes the law into his own hands after his son is murdered by a gang as an initiation ritual. Hume must then protect his family from the gang's resulting vengeance.

This film provide examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Bones, who has spent the entire movie ridiculing and debasing Billy, turns out to be the latter and Joe's father.
  • Asshole Victim: Given the fact that Joe killed Brendan (an innocent), him getting killed isn't really that sad.
  • Bald of Awesome: Nick shaves his head before going out to war.
  • Bald of Evil: Billy Darley.
  • Bathroom Breakout: Nick escapes from the watchful eye of Detective Wallis by going to visit his son in his hospital room, then climbing out the bathroom window.
  • Advertisement:
  • Big Bad: Billy Darley.
  • Bloodstained Glass Windows: The final shootout is in the chapel of an abandoned asylum.
  • Book-Ends: The home movies playing.
  • Car Fu: Nick uses a car he stole from from one of the gang to smash his way into the Abandoned Hospital where they have their drug lab: literally smashing his way through the van they have parked out in front in the process.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Literally. Bones Darley is working on a double-barreled shotgun in the scene where he's arguing with his son. The same gun is later bought by Nick Hume to use in his assault on Billy and his gang.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: It's an adult-oriented film with pervasive language, did you expect anything different?
  • Converse with the Unconscious: When Lucas is lying in a coma in the hospital after being shot in the head in retaliation for Nick's vigilante activities, Nick stands by his bed and tells him all of the things he probably should have told him while he was awake; especially that Lucas was not really The Unfavorite, but that Nick just did not know how to relate to him like he did with his elder son Brendan.
  • Advertisement:
  • Cycle of Revenge: Unlike Death Wish, Nick's pursuit of revenge ends up sparking an escalating war which ruins his life, destroys what's left of his family and results in his death.
  • Determinator: Nick without doubt. Serious injuries? Multiple armed thugs who have the home field advantage? That's not gonna stop him from getting his revenge.
  • Downer Ending: Nick had his wife killed by the Darley gang, and Nick himself dies from his injuries leaving his remaining son in turmoil if he lives long enough.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: They may be murderous punks who slaughtered Brendan and another innocent bystander, but Joe was Billy's brother and his gang also feels the same way.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Bones knows Nick is going after his son, but believes that if he's going as far as arming himself to the teeth, his son deserves it.
  • Fat Bastard: Bones is played by the hefty John Goodman and is nothing but a yelling, politically incorrect asshole.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Nick goes from a normal Family Man to a vigilante Papa Wolf.
  • Genre Deconstruction: This film deconstructs the urban vigilante film that Death Wish pioneered by showing how vigilantism makes everything worse instead of its usual depiction of fighting wrongs with violence. By the end of the movie, Luke is the only surviving member of his immediate family — and even then, he could still either die in his coma or manage to wake up but be Driven to Suicide anyway upon learning about his entire family's deaths.
  • Hand Cannon: By the way of Colt Python. Bones even talks about another hand cannon, a Desert Eagle, calling it the Sword of Justice.
  • Happier Home Movie: Near the end of the movie, Nick settles down to watch one of these. After losing his wife and nearly losing his other son, this is pretty much all he has left of his family. And then, he dies of his wounds.
  • The Hero Dies: The uncut version shows Nick himself dying of his injuries at the end.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Nick, after his older son's death, but especially after his young son is nearly killed and his wife is killed.
  • Important Haircut: Nick shaves his head before his big revenge spree.
  • Kill 'Em All: The entire Darley gang and Nick's family dies in the end, save for Luke.
  • Machete Mayhem: Brendan is cut down by a gang member armed with a machete early on in the film. Nick considers using a machete in response but instead opts for a much more concealable knife.
  • Macho Masochism: Billy demonstrates that he is not intimidated by Nick (or possibly just Ax-Crazy) by extinguishing his cigarette on his tongue.
  • Made of Iron: Nick suffers various injuries that would normally cripple a person, such as falling through a banister down to the first floor, and being involved in a car crash, just to name a few. He more or less shrugs them off and continues on.
  • Moral Myopia: Despite Billy and his gang egging on Joe to murder an innocent stranger (Brendan) who had loved ones, they care more about the fact that Nick killed Joe in retaliation for his son's murder.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Nick's outrage over the legal fate of his son's murderer drives him to engage in an act of revenge killing, which in turn spawns revenge killings in retaliation, which spawns even more revenge killing.
  • Not So Different: Billy does this with Nick before he's killed.
    Billy: Look at you. You look like one of us. Look what I made you.
  • The Oner: The long continuous shot of Nick's shootout with several gang members in a parking garage while he's chasing down a certain mook. The camera continues filming the action, without cuts, as Nick (and the fleeing mook) run up the levels of the garage; at several points, the camera actually backs out of the garage to go up a floor (as if flying).
  • Outliving One's Offspring:
    • Nick and Helen lose their eldest son, Brendan, from a pointless murder.
    • Bones is this as his youngest son, Joe, was murdered by Nick.
  • Papa Wolf:
    • Deconstructed with Nick. His anger and hate over his son's pointless murder is sympathetic, but him going vigilante and killing Joe only served to have Joe's loved ones retaliate and kill Helen and almost kill Luke. And in the end, he realizes he's Not So Different from them as he dies from his wounds.
    • Subverted with Bones. When he figures out that Nick killed Joe and is about to kill Billy, he cocks his gun threateningly while asking those questions. But, ultimately lets Nick go as he feels that whatever Billy did to warrant Nick to buy so many guns, his son deserves his oncoming death.
  • Pants-Positive Safety: Nick does this without even a second thought.
  • Patricide: Billy kills Bones when he learn that his father had been selling weapons to Nick, right behind his back.
  • Plot-Triggering Death: Brendan's murder at the hands of Joe causes Nick to go vigilante.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: Nick manages to avenge his family, but at the cost of his wife's life, his own, and his youngest son becoming comatose.
  • Reality Ensues: The film does not romanticize vigilantism and vengeance in the least; Nick is an emotional wreck after killing the first gang member and it escalates into the gang retaliating against his family, killing his wife and putting his other son in a coma. Nick himself dies from wounds from his last stand against the thugs, coming to the realization that after his breaking point, he wound up Not So Different from them after all.
  • A Real Man Is a Killer: The real, and horrifying, reason why Joe killed Brendan. It was part of an initiation from his brother and his gang to kill a random stranger to prove he was a "man".
  • Reckless Gun Usage: Just watch Nick testing out his guns and try not to cringe.
  • Shotguns Are Just Better: Nick carries a double barrel shotgun into his quest for vengeance.
  • Shower of Angst: Nick cries while in the shower after he murders Joe.
  • Significant Wardrobe Shift: In the beginning, Nick sports a regular Family Man like attire but switches to clothing resembling the gang who killed Brendan and Helen, and almost killed Luke.
  • Slashed Throat: Brendan's death, by way of machete.
  • Sole Survivor: Luke, apparently, as he is waking from coma, but his brother and parents are all dead.
  • Tattooed Crook: All of the gang members have some kind of tattoo and each and every single one of them are murdering thugs.
  • Title Drop: Billy Darley does this during his threat to go after the rest of Nick's family.
    Billy: You just bought them a death sentence, motherfucker!
  • Took a Level in Badass: Nick had some trouble killing Joe, but calmly goes One-Man Army on the rest of the gang in the climax.
  • Vengeance Feels Empty: This is how Det. Jessica Wallis thinks Nick Hume's revenge spree will end. She's right.
    Wallis: This thing stops right now. God knows why you're still alive. But you're being given a second chance. You think that officer's out there protecting you? He's protecting you from yourself. He'll haul your ass right to jail if I say so. You want your retribution and you kill a couple of punks, and it brought you what? Huh? Everybody thinks they're right in a war. Everybody still dies in the end. You are never going to win this, Mr. Hume. Nobody is.
  • Weapon of Choice: Nick's preferred weapon seems to be a double-barreled shotgun even though the people he's going up against have SMGs and other weapons with higher capacity. Somewhat justified in that Nick is not very familiar with firearms and the double-barrel has a very simple manual of arms with few ways it can go wrong.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: