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Armand Assante

Plodding ‘Stressed to Kill’ is off the mark

Plodding ‘Stressed to Kill’ is off the mark

In craftier hands, the semi-comic revenge thriller “Stressed to Kill” might have been a minor treat: a riff on ‘70s vigilante classics like “Death Wish” that redefines unacceptable outrage for the thin-skinned 21st century. But if writer-director Mark Savage and co-writer Tom Parnell have anything clever to say, their broad characters and crude gags keep them from articulating it.

Bill Oberst Jr. stars as Bill, a perpetually angry middle-aged man who suffers a near-fatal heart attack and is ordered to find a way to relieve stress. Bill’s answer? He stops getting peeved at rude people — like yahoos who look at their cellphones at the...