Death Sentence

Movie review by
Cynthia Fuchs, Common Sense Media
Death Sentence Movie Poster Image
Vigilante justice turns ugly and painful. No kids.
  • R
  • 2007
  • 119 minutes

Parents say

age 17+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 17+
Based on 3 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

A father's campaign of vengeance against the gang members who kill his son leads to more sorrow and pain.


Bloody, loud, aggressive violence throughout; participants' bodies are increasingly marked by cuts, scars, bruises, and welts. Fatal and otherwise brutal action includes shooting (shotguns, handguns), knifing (close-up, blade sunk into chest), kicking and beating, and car crashing (a young man is slammed by a car, in a startling, disturbing way). A car falls off a parking garage upper floor, killing the person inside. Police officers are shown with their throats cut (bloody). Gang members shoot family in cold blood; the camera lingers on the bloody bodies. Final shootout goes on for several minutes, with lots blood, shadows, and fast editing.


Billy enters a motel room with a prostitute (she wears revealing clothes and is seen from a distance, in shadows), and his brother hands him a condom. Nick appears in a shower, grieving and bruised.


Nearly 100 uses of "f--k," plus assorted other profanity (not surprising for a violent revenge movie), including "s--t," "ass," "damn," and "son of a bitch." Also, some instances of slang for male genitals ("d--k" and "pr--k").


Car brands mark "masculine" progression: Nick first drives a Ford but eventually takes the villains' muscle car.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A couple of scenes are set in a meth lab. Some celebratory drinking of champagne. Gang members drink beer and shots in a dark bar. References to drug use (a man taps his arm to indicate heroin use, a couple appears nodding or "high"). Billy and other gang members smoke cigarettes.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this revenge drama/thriller isn't for kids in any way. Following the transformation of an orderly, mild-mannered insurance executive into a brutal killer, the film is basically a series of violent acts, each one payback for the one that preceded it. Bloody violence includes shooting, stabbing, fighting, and car chases and crashes. In one scene, a young man enters a motel room with a prostitute hired by his brother (but nothing explicit is shown). There are references to drug trade and use, as well as some smoking and drinking and lots of language, particularly "f--k."

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bygracem April 9, 2008
Adult Written bytim44 April 9, 2008

Revenge flick, not so bad

Death sentence is a simple story. the violence in some scences is bloody and intense. this violence is typical for a revenge flick. the language in some spots i... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written bychristian-movie... September 4, 2009

If you don't mind violence and extreme language you'll love this movie!

This movie was very violent. I did like it but I do not think it is appropriate for kids. Also I want you all to know wee have a special dvd player that takes o... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written by[email protected] April 9, 2008

What's the story?

When his son is randomly killed by gang members and the D.A. can't convict the culprits, insurance exec Nick Hume (Kevin Bacon) turns vigilante. Killing the shooter only makes things worse, and Nick's action leads to more revenge attacks, each bloodier than the one before. Inevitably, the violence affects Nick's wife, Helen (Kelly Preston), and his younger, traumatized son (Jordan Garrett). Nick hones his attack skills, receiving little help from local cops. Though Detective Wallis (Aisha Tyler) means well, but she can't control or support Nick's increasingly uncontrollable and violent assaults.

Is it any good?

Scripted by Death Wish writer Brian Garfield,James Wan's movie is smart enough about its generic limits: The violence is ragingly B, and the cops always steps behind. While the film resembles Taxi Driver, this "new" vigilante movie offers a different anti-hero. Here it's not the loner or the outsider who seeks redress by insane means, it's the family man, the guy who loses hope in the very system he's always trusted.

When Nick meets another father, a gun salesman named Bones (John Goodman), he's briefly appalled by the man's complete rejection of a monstrous son. But by this time Nick's own morality is so skewed and incoherent that he only nods at his new friend, eyes hard and jaw jutting, the low angle making you wonder which dad is the baddest.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the film's messages about both family and revenge. How does vengeance become a way of showing loyalty in this movie? Does the movie support or argue against that idea? How? Do you think any of the violence is justified? Why or why not? Is violence ever the right response to a wrong done against someone? Why do we see so much of that in the movies?

Movie details

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