“Death Wish” stars Bruce Willis, Vincent D’Onofrio, Elisabeth Shue, Dean Norris, and Kimberly Elise. Released on March 2, 2018, the film is about a doctor who takes matters into his own hands when his wife is murdered by robbers.
The film is directed by Eli Roth, who also directed films such as Cabin Fever, Hostel, and The Green Inferno. It is a remake of the 1974 film of the same name, and it is based on the 1972 novel of the same name by Brian Garfield. This latest R-rated action film sees Bruce Willis returning to his mainstream butt-kicking ways as he is headlining another thrilling remake from Hollywood. The original Death Wish film was extremely criticized for its exploitive depiction of violence and vigilantism, not to mention the brutal rape scene of the main character’s daughter, but it also resonated with people who were facing some staggering crime rates in the 1970s. So now we are getting a retelling of this vigilante film under the direction of Eli Roth, which makes sense given his taste in showcasing gruesome and violent deaths onscreen. Since I haven’t seen the original, I will be reviewing it as its own film for those who haven’t seen it either.
The remake follows the same storyline as the original with a few differences. One of them being the character of Paul Kersey (Willis), who is now classified as a surgeon at a Chicago hospital as opposed to him being an architect in the 1974 film. The other being the exclusion of the infamous graphic rape scene that made the original so horrific, so if you’re not a fan of that scene in general, then don’t you worry. This film knows that it doesn’t need to reintroduce that type of stuff to a new generation of moviegoers. The story also depicts how people respond to the amount of violent crimes that have happened in Chicago as well as some of the pros and cons of becoming a vigilante. In terms of direction, Eli Roth was able to display this type of commentary quite well, although for someone who has been drowning us with extreme violence and torture throughout his career, this is probably the most tamest R-rated film that he’s ever done, for better or for worse. Don’t get me wrong, it has its violent moments, including some headshots and stuff, but if you’re expecting Roth to go all “Cabin Fever” on this film or whatever, you’re going to feel a bit disappointed as well. The story also suffers from its usual amount of revenge-seeking action film cliches that we have seen before, along with a couple of scenes that may feel implausible for the strong-minded moviegoers. However, in the midst of these noticeable flaws, this film has plenty of moments that are actually quite enjoyable. One of these moments is Bruce Willis’ performance as Paul Kersey. If you like Willis in his other action films, there’s a good chance you’ll like him in this as well. What makes his character interesting is that he’s an ordinary doctor who’s fighting back against those who done him wrong, even though his way of doing it may not be the best way of handling the situation. He has no training, whatsoever. He’s not a former police cop or a retired CIA agent. Just a regular guy who’s learning how to handle guns. The only thing that would’ve make his character development a lot better is putting a bit more focus on the consequences of being a vigilante. There’s also a couple of action sequences that were mildly fun and entertaining, but far from thrilling and memorable.
Overall, the story in “Death Wish” isn’t clever enough to generate as much impact as its violent commentary, but as a standard piece of R-rated entertainment, it’s a suitable watch. The presence of Bruce Willis and its enjoyable sequences were able to shoot past its cliched plot and its lack of thematic depth. It definitely looks like that Eli Roth limited himself with this one in terms of his quality and the amount of violence he’s known for, but at least my experience with this one is much more tolerable than The Green Inferno. I mean, seriously, who would want to watch that disgusting film again? It’s not something that’s worth rushing out into the theater to see, but if you’re in a mood for some R-rated goodness, it’s worth a look at.