Published on March 19th, 2018 | by Tim Cooper
Death Wish – Film Review
Reviewed by Damien Straker on the 19th of March 2018
Rialto Distribution presents a film by Eli Roth
Produced by Roger Birnbaum
Screenplay by Joe Carnahan
Starring Bruce Willis, Vincent D’Onofrio, Elisabeth Shue, Dean Norris and Kimberly Elise
Music by Ludwig Göransson
Cinematography Rogier Stoffers
Edited by Mark Goldblatt
Running Time: 107 minutes
Release Date: the 8th of March 2018
After a home invasion leaves his wife fatally wounded and his daughter in a coma, Dr. Paul Kersey (Bruce Willis) is left alone to mourn in anger and frustration. Tired of waiting for answers while the police stall, Kersey takes justice into his own hands by hitting the streets to deliver violent fates to anyone that stands in his way.
Loosely based on the 1974 film starring Charles Bronson, Death Wish is yet another remake for which no one asked. The way director Eli Roth (Hostel, 2005) steers the action and themes shows a blatant disregard for originality. Viewers will also be begging to re-watch Die Hard (1988) to restore their increasingly dwindling faith in the film’s fading action star, Bruce Willis.
While Bruce Willis isn’t known for his acting bravado, he can produce engaging work when working with the right script and director. His character shows very little emotion throughout the film despite his harrowing circumstances. When Kersey confronts his wife’s killers in a fight for justice and revenge it leaves us cold and disconnected. What should be very emotional violence is instead an unengaging viewing experience.
The emotional disconnection is compounded by the ridiculous and obvious gun culture spread brazenly throughout the film. Parts of the film are laughable due to the dubious and dangerously attractive way guns are advertised. Guns are both the cause and the release of pain in this film. The story arc completely revolves around pulling the trigger for resolutions. This is the same from the viewpoint of the protagonist and the antagonist. Given the violence in American schools, this type of film now seems outdated and irresponsible. Peppered with over-the-top, gun-loving violence and a one-stop-shop featuring a beautiful blond selling over-the-counter guns ’n’ ammo, Roth relishes the violence but offers no social comment on it.
Death Wish is neither a successful revenge film nor a fun action film. Bruce Willis used to stand out from the muscle-bound meathead stars of the late 1980s action films, but now performs in mediocre roles without any strong engagement in his performances. He is capable of more and in this film, his natural character is wasted. This film is a relic of an age when the world was different, and cinema was exploring the violent nature of man, but that same world and gun violence has intensified. This leaves Death Wish as cold and uninteresting in line with most of Eli Roth’s work.
Watch Die Hard, Pulp Fiction or even The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable for a great Willis performance. Stay away from this garbage and hope that our last great action star returns with a performance featuring more character and that trademark smirk that made him a household name earlier in his career and first brought him into the spotlight.
Summary: Stay away from this garbage and hope that our last great action star returns with a performance featuring more character and that trademark smirk that made him a household name earlier in his career and first brought him into the spotlight.