Dr. Paul Kersey (Bruce Willis) is the posterboy of suburbia. He’s a surgeon at a notable hospital in Chicago, he has an equally successful wife Lucy (Elisabeth Shue) and a loving daughter Jordan (Camila Morrone), who just got accepted into one of the big colleges in New York City. The Kersey’s lives would be forever changed in a botched robbery at home while Paul was unexpectedly called into work. Paul, stricken with grief and infuriated at the lack of progress in the police’s investigation, takes the law into his own hands.
If someone would’ve asked a year ago that Death Wish would be remade, I would probably have asked why. You could credit Liam Neeson for popularising the ‘revenge-thriller’ subgenre. Taken turns 10 years old this year, suggesting that the suburban killing machine trope has run its course. For Death Wish to work, it would be a very different film, so that it’s not easily compared to Taken, The Equalizer or John Wick but, not so different that it loses the spirit of the Death Wish franchise.
Luckily, Eli Roth doesn’t disappoint.
Set with a backdrop of Chicago’s unprecedented and unfortunate homicide rates from a few years ago, Joe Carnahan’s script smartly sprinkles seeds of plausibility, setting the table for Dr. Kersey’s inevitable depth into vigilantism. though billed as a remake, there are too many differences from the original film to call it a pure remake. It’s more of an update and reimagining of the 1974 classic. The role of social media and the nationwide real time discussion of events on satellite radio are some nice, modern touches, wherein Paul Kersey of the original film was a conscientious objector of the Korean War.
If you know of Eli Roth’s work, you know that it’s not for the squeamish. With that said, Death Wish reeks of Roth’s signature gore. Not on the level of Hostel or The Green Inferno, I wouldn’t recommend seeing Death Wish on a full stomach. It’s a bloody mess at times with more than a few WTF moments.
Death Wish may be 10 years too late, as the ‘middle aged man on a mission revenge genre has certainly outlived its usefulness. Bruce Willis doesn’t necessarily need to channel his inner John McClane but, it would’ve helped his character more than the emo block of cheese he turned out to be in this film. It’s not Willis’ best acting performance, but that’s not why one watches Death Wish, or an Eli Roth movie. In a movie like this, that is full of extremes, Death Wish satisfies; which is more than I can ask of a film with a March release.
Rated: R @ 108 mins