Hot Take: A mediocre remake that not only fails to bring anything relevantly new to the film but also has awful timing.
I might be one of the biggest Bruce Willis fans there is. Case in point, I actually liked 1994’s Color Of Night. Need more proof? I went to see a marathon showing of every Die Hard which included not leaving during A Good Day to Die Hard. I think that’s enough to establish my fandom for Mr. Willis. I’m also not one of those people who frowns on every reboot or remake coming down the pike. Every once in a while, they surprise and delight which is where my hopes were for Death Wish, the 2018 remake of the 1974 Charles Bronson film that spawned a five film franchise. Considering director Eli Roth has had no qualms with a little bit of shock and awe in his filmmaking career, it came as quite the surprise when this remake failed to do much in the way of bringing any sort of new twist to the classic film which isn’t always bad but, in this case, it drags the film into mediocrity and it looked at some points as if Willis were sleepwalking through the lead role.
Willis plays Paul Kersey, a Chicago doctor who turns to vigilantism after his wife Lucy (Elisabeth Shue) is murdered and daughter Jordan (Camila Morrone) slips into a coma after being assaulted. Paul can’t sleep and gets frustrated waiting for the detectives (played by Dean Norris and Kimberly Elise) investigating the case continue to lack answers. Cue the montage of Paul learning to shoot and becoming intimately familiar with the fascination of firing a gun. (Do you sense some sarcasm here?) The rest of the film becomes a “Stand Your Ground” advocates wet dream as Paul takes things into his own hands rather than wait for the inept detectives who are too busy trying to avoid gluten to figure out who the criminals were.
***MINOR SPOILER HERE (BUT THEN AGAIN, IT’S A REMAKE!)***
To add insult to injury, once Paul decides to become a vigilante, it takes him almost no time at all to break the case wide open because every criminal in Chicago knows each other, I’m sure. In essence, it just appears to be lazy filmmaking featuring a Willis performance that feels very “going through the motions” by the end of it. It also feels fairly insensitive considering the timing as Willis’ character is shown easily getting his hands on guns whenever he really wants to. Worst of all, the film lacks any legitimate action sequence worth remembering including one ludicrous scene involving a bowling ball.
What would have worked better here is if the original Death Wish was thrown back into theaters for a one-night only showing. Outside of the handful of people who would have enjoyed seeing Charles Bronson back on the big screen, it’s unlikely it would have generated much more interest than this tired, ill-timed, insensitive and, frankly, boring remake.
You love Bruce Willis more than I do. (That’s going to be tough to accomplish, too. Did I tell you about the time I met him coming out of a bathroom at The Borgata at 3am?)
The original Death Wish is available on Amazon Video for $0.99.