Death Wish (Remake) - Spoiler Free Movie Review
Graphic violence against innocent residents, and a gun-toting vigilante serving justice with bullets. The NRA couldn’t be more proud, even if they had paid for this advert themselves.
Director: Eli Roth
Cast: Bruce Willis, Vincent D’Onofrio, Dean Norris, Camila Morrone, Elisabeth Shue, Kimberly Elise, Beau Knapp, Jack Kesy, Ronnie Gene Blevins, Ian Matthews & Wendy Crewson.
Run Time: 107 min.
US Release: 02 March 2018
UK Release: 06 April 2018
German Release: 08 March 2018
Is it just me or is Bruce Willis getting worse the older he gets? In all honesty, I haven’t seen the man in a good movie since Looper (Split does not count!) and this revenge flick, directed by Eli Roth, simply adds to his bad resume. Death Wish is a remake of the 1974 original of the same name that starred Charles Bronson as the lead. Compared to its predecessor, though, this re-envision fails at having a charismatic lead character. Then again, I shouldn’t have expected anything else from an Eli Roth project. It is fun to watch once the action starts but the story segments are completely underdeveloped!
Dr. Paul Kersey (Willis) is a happily married husband and father. The aftermath of violence that is happening in the city of Chicago, where he lives in, is only noticed when he is in the ER, operating on victims of crimes. That is, until one night his wife (Shue) and daughter (Morrone) are brought in with heavy injuries after a burglary in his home went awry. With the police left without clues, Paul, who is striving for revenge, starts hunting down criminals in a brutal fashion.
The plot follows that of the original’s beat for beat, apart from a couple of changes made to the personas as well as the ending. The biggest difference, however, is the quality of the writing and direction. I am not the biggest fan of the original Death Wish, finding it to brutal for the sake of invoking shock in the viewer, yet I could still tell that director Michael Winner was trying to make a compelling film, with a message vital to its time. Roth’s remake, on the other hand, just tries to make a quick buck by living of its predecessor’s reputation. The narration in between the action segments is practically non-existent, awfully paced and makes use of radio-show montages, to add any sense of depth.
The dialogue isn’t any better, using speech patterns or forms of conversations I have never heard being used by any family. Even the therapy sessions do not sound convincing and don’t get me started on the laughably terrible talk between Dr. Kersey and one of his daughter’s friends. That said, where this movie excels are the entertaining action sequences. This is a bloody and violent feature but it is fun to watch Bruce Willis kick some butt, avenging the tragedy that befell his family!
Most of the performances are poorly delivered. Apart from D’Onofrio, there isn’t one I would have called credible. On top of that, this picture doesn’t present the viewers with a clear villain but simply jumps from one fight to the next, which makes it hard for the audience to feel sympathy with the lead character, when he is gunning down people that are on screen for a few seconds.
Bruce Willis plays Dr. Paul Kersey, a surgeon working at a Chicago Hospital. Willis’ rendition of the character lacks any sort of emotion, while the little he did show is absolutely misplaced. He is cheery and happy during scenes where he should be devastated, having just lost part of his family in such tragic way. This is not a man that is grieving or angry, but a bad parody of the original character. The development he makes from life-saving surgeon to deadly vigilante is handled via a montage that fails at explaining the transformation.
Vincent D’Onofrio is by far the best asset to this film! While it isn’t his best performance, he does lend the character of Frank Kersey, brother to Dr. Kersey, some reliability. D’Onofrio is also the only actor who shows some sort of emotion, especially after what happened to his persona’s niece and sister-in-law, which makes him the most likeable person in this remake.
Dean Norris dons the same role he already played in Breaking Bad - one of my favourite TV shows! I would not complain about it, if he had given his character a different approach but he simply reiterates the characteristics of Hank Schrader, to the role of Detective Kevin Raines. He is still the more believable of the two cops, as Kimberly Elise rendition of Detective Leonore Jackson is horribly wooden.
Verdict: Eli Roth’s remake of the 1974 original, starring Charles Bronson, is nothing more than an empty hull. Given Roth’s resume of cheap horror flicks, I don’t know why I expected more from this film. The plot is lazily written, using news segments or radio show video-clippings, to fill in the audience on what is happening and create a false sense of profoundness. The dialogues are delivered laughably poor, not selling the grief or despair of the main character, while Bruce Willis’ emotional absences and terrible performance, crushes the last bit of credibility. Dean Norris resumes the same role he already played in Breaking Bad, without lending the role any new attributes. The cinematography is as lazily uninspired as the script itself. Honestly, the only parts that give this feature some sort of entertaining value, are the action segments and Vincent D’Onofrio. For this reason alone, I will grant Death Wish a 4 out of 10.
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