Published on April 9th, 2018 | by voxx0
Out: 6 April
Length: 107 minutes
Director: Eli Roth
Cast: Bruce Willis, Elizabeth Shue, Vincent D’Onofrio, Camila Morrone
Plot: Trauma Surgeon Dr. Paul Kersey (Willis) has spent most of his life saving other lives. After an attack on his family, he embarks on his own mission of justice.
Eli Roth’s remake of 1974’s controversial classic ‘Death Wish’ ends in horrendously misleading results. The original was a tough, taut drama about Charles Bronson’s mild-mannered family man who became addicted to vigilante violence after his wife and his daughter were taken from him. Sure, it made Bronson into a strong action hero but in the film’s run time it would constantly ask in depth questions about the personal and the social impacts of vigilante violence and what it would do in the long run. Roth’s remake decides very early on to rip-up director Michael Winner’s original idea like a piece of paper and take an entirely new spin by making it look as if vigilante violence has few, if any, negative consequences.
Sure enough, on paper they share similar plot points; Bruce Willis plays respected trauma surgeon and mild-mannered family man Dr. Paul Kersey, until his home is invaded, his wife (Shue) is killed and his daughter (Morrone) is put in a coma for a while. Willis is the reliable father figure who takes care of his daughter in hospital while asking questions to the police if they’ve found anything. When the results end up inconclusive he decides to arm himself and avenge his family.
Throughout the action moments, Willis plays an imposing figure looking like something in your nightmares. Wearing track suit bottoms, his hood up, and with a grim look on his face he’s menacing, like the grim reaper. To Roth this is all fun and games showing Willis as a horror figure, and as a man who’s known for making blood-drenched psycho-horrors, he’s clearly at home. However, he’s completely indecisive with his tone. Plot-wise, he can’t decide a route to go down, and throughout the 107 minute running time he changes the tone from horror, through drama, to action and finally, like with ‘Hostel’ and ‘Knock Knock’ he adds his natural torture element. But his strategic approach is played so po-faced that the final result comes off as painfully dull and so painstakingly daft that it’s almost embarrassing for Willis to be here.
But the real problem of Roth’s remake is that it almost feels like a padded exercise for political references. There are endless, pointless, and sometimes silly scenes of radio hosts debating vigilante violence and its negative causes to society. And the mismatched shoot-outs that never have a well-placed tone, or indeed any real relevance, waters down the thrills. Yes, Willis is a formidable figure, but unlike Charles Bronson he lacks the style, the grace, the real pulp and the gritty attitude. In fact, it might’ve been the best option to have left this alone.
VERDICT: With ‘Death Wish’ Roth takes the tough topic of the original through poor heroism, forgettable action and a dire that plot barely holds.
- By Corey Denford