Unfairly dismissed as a DEATH WISH ripoff by people who never got past the title and poster, VIGILANTE is a tremendous, gritty masterpiece of revenge cinema.
When factory worker Robert Forster’s family is victimized by street criminals, he pursues the legal route through the justice system. But when a corrupt court turns the perpetrators loose he teams up with Fred Williamson’s de facto clean-up crew to drive the scum from the streets.
Far more than just a button-pushing exercise in payback, VIGILANTE addresses the real issues — both social and personal — involved in taking the law in our own hands, and Forster and Williamson give outstanding performances under the direction of William Lustig (MANIAC; MANIAC COP). Balance, pacing and action are all perfect here. If the climax of this movie doesn’t have you pumping your fist in excitement, you should see a fist doctor right away.
“The film is drenched in dread, paranoia and helplessness. Violence is everywhere. A random encounter with a stranger can result in serious injury or death. Although this is bad news for the characters, it is good news for the audience because it leads to a steady flow of car chases, beat-downs, gun fights, and bloody squibs.” - Rodney Perkins, Screen Anarchy