Ray Baxter, senior reviewer
Here is a trivia question for all you movie buffs: How many movies did Charles Bronson star in as the character Paul Kersey? Hint: they all have the words "Death Wish" in the title. Amazingly, the answer is five, over a 20-year period.
I doubt Jodie Foster will try to duplicate the Bronson effort by making five, but her latest movie follows a strikingly similar footprint -- an upstanding local citizen changing into a fearless vigilante.
Foster plays Erica Bain, a New York radio talk show host. She finds her job satisfying and rewarding, is madly in love with her fiancé, surgeon David Karmani (Naveen Andrews). In a nutshell, she is living her dream life.
The dream comes quickly to an end, as one night the couple take a walk in Central Park are brutally mugged and beaten. David dies from his wounds and Erica spends weeks in a hospital recovery room. At first, the mental trauma is such that after she is released from the hospital, her own apartment becomes a prison. She is too scared to venture outside.
Fortunately, Erica overcomes this fear. Her first order of business is to purchase an illegal handgun; her justification is she has to survive. Soon after Erica is shopping in a small market store when the estranged husband of the store clerk comes in and viciously shoots his wife. When he turns on Erica, she fires three times and kills him instantly.
Other confrontations follow and Erica becomes more at ease with taking out the bad guys.
New York Detective Mercer (Terrance Howard) investigates the cases and begins to see the common threads among them.
Instead of trying to avoid Mercer, Erica engages the detective by interviewing him for her radio program. You soon understand that Mercer has developed strong feelings for Erica, while at the same time realizing she is becoming his prime suspect.
There were several times when this movie bogged down, but the superb acting on the part of both Foster and Howard was able to retain the audience interest and focus.
The revenge and vigilante plots are not new to the big screen and at times, some of this movie is predictable. However, the unique ending has you leaving the theater glad that you saw the movie.