Probably would have been better if this movie was just pulled from release altogether.
Death Wish is a movie that still somehow saw the light of day, even with all of the topical issues going on about gun violence in our nation today. Not sure that was the best move MGM Studios could have made with this one.
Directed by Eli Roth (yes, the same Eli Roth known for his gross horror movies like Hostile, Cabin Fever and The Green Inferno), Death Wish is a remake of the 1974 Charles Bronson film of the same name, only this time it stars Bruce Willis in the lead role. Oh joy.
Willis plays Paul Kersey, a surgeon and a family man who….
…And I’m going to go ahead and stop right there for a second. Bruce Willis as a surgeon. That’s a real thing that this movie tries to sell without playing it for laughs. He’s wearing scrubs in nearly every other scene, and there’s probably about 20 shots of him standing over a surgery table trying to say all serious things like "We’re going to have to call this one” or “Hand me my scalpel.” It’s utterly ridiculous.
Nevertheless, Paul is a happy guy (although you couldn’t tell it, since I’m convinced Bruce Willis has forgotten how to smile) who lives with his wife, Lucy (Elisabeth Shue, who deserves so much better than this movie) and daughter Jordan (Camila Morrone). His brother, Frank (Vincent D’Onofio, who deserves SO much better than this movie), pretty much drops in all the time too, because….reasons?
One day, the unthinkable happens. Some people break into Paul’s house while he’s away, with his wife and daughter getting caught in the crosshairs.
Losing what he loves most, Paul is no longer a happy guy. Now he’s an angry, sad guy who wants nothing more than to extract some good old fashion revenge. After the cops — namely Detective Rains (Dean Norris) and Detective Jackson (Kimberly Elise), as they seem to be the only to cops in all of Chicago and therefore are assigned to every case, ever — fail to find any leads and Paul’s father-in-law gives him some inspiration by scaring away some poachers with a shot-gun, Paul knows what he has to do.
What he has to do, of course, is go buy a bunch of guns and ammunition and shoot down anyone in the middle of the street who does so much as look at him funny. Because, you know, that’s what all good and responsible citizens are supposed to do.
Yes, Death Wish comes at an incredibly untimely release date, as our country is very much up in arms about how to proceed when it comes to gun laws. This definitely isn’t the movie we need right now, and it’s going to do very little to ease anyone’s tension.
But take away the time when this movie chose to came out (we can’t entirely hold that one against the film, as it certainly didn’t know all the recent events that would be surrounding its release) and it doesn’t change the fact that Death Wish still isn’t a good movie that no one, like literally no one, was asking for.
First and foremost, Bruce Willis was sleepwalking through the entire film. Gone are the days of Pulp Fiction or even Looper Bruce Willis, when he looked like he actually cared about the movies he was in. Now he’ll appear in just about anything for a paycheck, just don’t expect him to put some serious effort in while doing it. He’s dull, wooden and clearly couldn’t care less about the film, which makes the audience, as a s result, also not care.
All the blame doesn’t fall solely on Willis’ shoulders, though. The script is a complete mess that moves at a painfully slow pace and makes little to no sense at times. There’s nothing that stands out as being memorable or interesting, it’s all just a rather dull affair.
Of course, in rebooting it, they try to add some modern day applications to it — we constantly cut to social media feeds questioning whether Bruce Willis’ alter-ego is something that’s good for the city or bad. These are all themes we’ve seen addressed a million times before in other, better properties, and Death Wish does little to answer or add to any of them.
Dean Norris gives a rather uninspired performance as well. Of course, we all know he can play an FBI agent after Breaking Bad, and Death Wish sees him more-or-less going through the same motions. The same motions only with a brand new twist: THIS TIME his character has to eat gluten, even though he hates it! So we get a handful of shots of him complain about gluten-free granola bars! Whooo-hoooo, talk about exciting!
There are moments in Death Wish where you can see Eli Roth trying. Why he chose to remake or direct this over literally anything else (he was at one point signed on to direct the Jason Statham giant shark movie, Meg, which I think we’d all rather see), I’ll never know. But, still, there are certain moments when it looks like he’s trying to make some sort of statement or point in all of this mess.
The mess, however, is a damning one. Death Wish crumbles, not only under the weight of it’s own subject matter, but in the dull performances, a boring and overly-dramatic story (there’s a montage about half-way through that honestly feels like a parody) and stupidity. In a world crammed with reboots and remakes, this is one that probably should’ve just been scrapped.
Watch the Death Wish trailer here, and let us know what you thought of the movie in the comments below!
A bad idea for several reasons: 'Death Wish' review3