Charles Bronson’s “Death Wish” series of modern-day vigilante movies wheezed on for twenty years (1974-1994) and five installments before finally expiring, but even with rising crime rates it’s unlikely that this tawdry and unintentionally hilarious clone—based on another novel author Brian Garfield—will challenge its longevity.

In “Death Sentence” Kevin Bacon plays Nick Hume, a risk-benefits analyst who’s a V.P. at a big-time firm and a happy husband and father. He owns a plush house in the suburbs and clearly loves his wife Helen (Kelly Preston) and his two sons, golden boy Brendan (Stuart Lafferty), a high school hockey star, and his younger, more sensitive brother Lucas (Jordan Garrett).

Unhappily, during a father-son trip through a bad area of town, Brendan is killed in an apparent gas station robbery by gang initiate Joe Darley (Matt O’Leary). And when the distraught Nick learns from an Assistant D.A. that the kid might plea bargain out to a sentence of just three years, he decides not to identify the culprit but instead mete out himself the punishment the sleazebag deserves. That initiates a war between Nick and gang leader Billy Darley (Garrett Hedlund), Joe’s older bro, that threatens Helen and Lucas, too. And the ultimate upshot is a full-scale battle between Nick and the whole Darley crew of scumbags in an abandoned hospital.

Yes, this sounds very much like “Death Wish,” but it’s even dumber. In fact, you could say that the entire plot is based on the premise that everyone in the picture—Nick, his family, Joe, Billy and their crew, and the cops led by Detective Wallis (Aisha Tyler)—are complete idiots, not just doing exactly the wrong thing but doing it blatantly. The plot connections the script makes are incredibly stupid, too. Watch for the risible moment when Billy figures out that Nick has killed Joe—involving a newspaper and a conveniently available witness. Or the scene in which one of Billy’s henchmen visits Nick’s high-rise office. Or the entire subplot involving a sleazy drug dealer-gun merchant named Bones (John Goodman), whom Nick visits to buy firepower—and turns out to be Billy’s father! Or the whole parking garage chase sequence, which is supposed to be nail-bitingly tense but is so ludicrous that it’s hard to suppress a guffaw while you watch it. That scene also epitomizes a problem with all the big action set-pieces—a complete lack of the topographical information that would allow the viewer to get his bearings. It ruins the street chase preceding the garage face-off (which begins on what looks like an upscale street but abruptly shifts into a slum) and is at its worst in the final hospital shoot-out, which is staged more clumsily that most similar sequences featuring endless dark hallways in schlocky horror movies. (And this from the director of the original “Saw,” too.)

It’s a pity that a good actor like Bacon is trapped in such stuff. Here’s a guy who’s delivered some masterful performances—“Stir of Echoes,” “Mystic River,” “The Woodsman”—reduced to playing a part so poorly written and ineptly shot that it’s embarrassing. He has to recite a hospital-room speech that sounds like a bad acting exercise, and in some of the later sequences he’s photographed in “iconic” poses of grim determination that make the story all the more ridiculous. (There are few things more absurd than a piece of pulpish junk with pretensions to significance—including in this case a heavy-handed message that all wars, even those on very limited turf, have no winners!) No one, however talented, could pull off a role as schizophrenic as this—Nick turns from a bumbler who can’t even wield a knife to a stern-eyed buyer of guns and expert marksman at the drop of a dime. (By contrast, Billy and his crew are probably the worst shots in the history of the streets, despite presumably having plenty of practice.)

The rest of the cast fare no better, with Goodman slumming ostentatiously as Wan pushes the camera into his grizzled face (and looking so bulbous one has to fear for his health) and Hedlund doing most of his acting with his omnipresent tattoos. O’Leary, once a pleasant-looking young actor (from Bill Paxton’s “Frailty” and the unfortunate John Travolta vehicle “Domestic Disturbance”) goes the preening sleazoid route with little success, and Preston gets to do nothing but look concerned. The only person who comes off reasonably well in the mire is Garrett, despite a plot turn that requires him to question why Luke’s parents apparently loved his dead brother best. A mediocre production completes the sorry picture, with drab widescreen cinematography (John R. Leonetti), flaccid editing (Michael N. Knue) and a bland score (Charlie Clouser) matching Wan’s spineless helming.

When the glorification of vigilantism in “Death Wish” burst on the scene more than three decades ago, it was deemed morally repugnant. As “Death Sentence” demonstrates all too well, it still is. And Jodie Foster’s distaff take on it, “The Brave One,” is just around the corner. Mean streets, indeed—but perhaps not crowded theatres.