Charles Bronson as Paul Kersey
William Redfield as Sam Kreutzer
Jack Wallace as Ives
Urban violence reached its peak in the mid 1970's. In New York, people were afraid to walk the streets at night, muggings were a common, and white flight was in full swing. Paul Kersey is an architect who takes to the streets and pursues vigilante justice after his wife is murdered and his daughter is placed in a coma by thugs.
However, Paul didn't start out as a violent man. He was a Consciencous Objector in the Korean War, a bleeding heart liberal who has finally had enough. As an architect, he is fighting to reclaim the city that he helped design. Charles Bronson has taken on vigilante roles before, most notably as a cowboy in the Magnificent Seven. However, Death Wish is one of the first films to depect an ordinary citizen taking up arms in a modern urban setting.
Early in the film, Paul's boss sends him to a job in Arizona to get his mind off the attack on his family. It is here, where Paul meets Ames, a local developer. Mind you, this conversation takes place a good 20 years before 'sustainability' was a key word for the in-crowd.
Ames: I wanted you to see this country before you see the drawing back at the office. Give you a better idea. I don't want to change these hills. Don't want to bulldoze them flat.
Paul: You waste a lot of building space.
Ames: Wastin' space. Now those are some words you big architects have got to change for something else.
Paul: Such As....
Ames: Well... Space for life! (pointing at a man on horse at the top of a ridge) Like old Judge up there, space for people! Horses! Cows! I got funny ideas about building things.
Later on, Paul is working late at night in the Arizona office. Ames is about to take Paul to the gun club where. A brief conversation about all-nighters takes place.
Ames: When do I get a look-see?
Paul: In a couple days.
Ames: Guard said you were here till after midnight last night.
Paul: Yeah, thats the way I work.
Ames: Somebody once said, I forget who, that he never looked back because something might be gaining on him. Whats gaining on you Paul?
Paul: 20 million dollar investment. What else?