The character "arc" of every "Death Wish" film is the same: Charles Bronson, as Paul Kersey, starts each installment as a peace-loving architect with a good, doomed woman by his side, and ends up having added so many baddies to his cumulative body count you'd think he was competing against Ho Chi Minh's all-time league record for kills-batted-in. The theme of all these movies is pretty much beating plowshares back into swords, as it were.
It's not street thugs incurring Bronson's wrath this time in "Death Wish V: The Face of Death" (citywide) but Mafioso. Seems deadly crime lord Tommy O'Shea--played by Michael Parks, who, coincidentally, starred in TV's "Then Came Bronson" 25 years ago--is also the ex-husband of the vigilante's new squeeze, Lesley-Anne Down. She hasn't heard that dating Kersey portends chances of survival roughly akin to a Spinal Tap drummer's, and gets it into her pretty (for now) head to testify against her mobster ex; predictably, bad things happen to good Bronson mates.
Even fans of "Wish" fulfillment--now celebrating the 20th anniversary of the original--will find the cheap, Canadian-made "V" a snoozer. Parks, at least, attacks the role of an Irishman heading New York's Italian Mafia with all the relish such an idiotic part demands. But no one can say "I love you" to an ill-fated fiancee or feign a slow burn with quite the absurd stoicism of Charles "Vengeance is Mine, Sayeth the Bored" Bronson--who, it is good to know, even in his early 70s can leap off tall buildings in a single bound and emerge unscathed.
'Death Wish V: The Face of Death'
Charles Bronson: Paul Kersey
Lesley-Anne Down: Olivia Regent
Michael Parks: Tommy O'Shea
A Trimark presentation of a 21st Century production. Director-writer Allan A. Goldstein. Producer Damian Lee. Executive producers Menahem Golan, Ami Artzi. Cinematographer Curtis Petersen. Editor Patrick Rand. Music Terry Plumeri. Running time: 1 hour, 31 minutes.
Times guidelines: Killing, disfigurement, brief nudity.