Looking even more like a grouchy old man sneering at a world full of eighties punk, basically the same shit happens to Paul Kersey again. Living in LA, still working successfully as an architect, Kersey has got a nice apartment, a pretty attractive girlfriend, and a Spanish maid. His daughter is still mute but overall seems much happier. A gang of new wave goons, some of them with shaved eyebrows, in pink glasses, pastel outfits, snatch Kersey’s wallet. He knocks them on their asses in retaliation. Revenge is a two-way street though. The gang of five find Kersey’s apartment, brutally rape his maid in an incredibly uncomfortable, utterly sickening scene, kidnap his daughter and rape her too, forcing her to jump to her death. Basically, new decade, new city, same shit, same ol’ Bronson.
This time Paul Kersey’s reaction is much more muted. Honestly, his reaction to the news of his daughter’s death is almost resigned. Kind of a fed up sense of, “Aw man, not this shit again.” After angrily chopping some wood, Kersey gets right back into shootin’ mode. The biggest irony about the original film is that Kersey never got to take out the goons that destroyed his family. The sequel immediately corrects that nice moment of ambiguity. Paul knows exactly who the thugs are and goes after them personally. He rents an apartment above a church. (For a fact, there’s a lot of religious stuff going on in the background in this film. Not sure if that was intentional or just accidental.) Trying to hide his nightly murders from his girlfriend and the cops, who are well on his trail after New York, Kersey lives a double life.
tries to kill Kersey with a forklift is somewhat suspenseful. There’s more blood in the squibs. Aside from the rather disturbing rape scene early on, there’s some random nudity and implied rape floating around too. (Michael Winner had some issues with women, I’m thinking.) So it’s definitely much more of an exploitation film then the first part. Bronson even gets to throw around some one-liners. There’s a great one too. You’ll know it when you hear it.
The punks are way more cartoonish then before. The film is even more of a reactionary fantasy because of it. The film kind of plays like Bronson and Winner pissed off about all the new wave kids out there. Oddly, Charlie actually acts a little in this too. His scenes with Jill Ireland, his real life wife of many years, are nicely warm with a lot of smiling and humor. It contrasts with how cold and executioner-style he is with his enemies.
In the last act, the leader of the gang doesn’t get sent to real prison, but to a mental hospital. Well, that kind of thing won’t stand. Bronson goes completely immoral by faking papers and disguising himself as a doctor. He sneaks into the hospital with the intent of murdering the scumbag in cold blood. What follows is a pretty cool close-quarters fight scene making good use of a shiv and a shock therapy machine. It continues the theme from the first film that Kersey is still a regular dude and isn’t beyond getting surprised or taken at a disadvantage. The bad guy’s death is kind of hilarious though. Once again, Bronson is allowed to get away, scot-free. The film cheers on his complete abuse of power and even suggests that it will continue. And that this is a good thing.
FUTURE STAR AS A RANDOM CREEP:
His boom box doesn’t protect him.