News outlets, social media and word of mouth are ways we hear of crimes happening to someone and we always say to ourselves, “It won’t happen to me,” thinking that we are invincible to crime. Families all over the world are affected by moments that will haunt them for the rest of their lives, but what happens when we decide to take action and seek justice for ourselves? Death Wish tries to address this issue and unlike the Charles Bronson 1974 film of the same name which reveled in the idea of vigilantism, this re-imagining can’t seem to make up its mind. Director Eli Roth has a good cast but with a script lacking in focus and featuring no suspense, the answers to vigilantism are never answered ending in a result that doesn’t quite hit the bullseye on the target.
Paul Kersey (Bruce Willis) is a respected doctor in Chicago whose wife and daughter (Elisabeth Shue and Camila Morrone) are attacked by a pair of burglars. His life is changed and he sees the world in a new light. The news is devastating for Paul and his brother Frank (Vincent D’Onofrio). The detectives who are working on the case (Dean Norris and Kimberly Elise) become busy when a lone vigilante whose been nicknamed “The Grim Reaper” starts killing criminals on the streets. He wears a hoodie, is armed with a gun and has the people of Chicago talking. Is he right for what he’s doing? Is he wrong?
Taking place in a city that has one of the highest crimes rates of the United States, Death Wish has the audacity of reminding us as the morning news reports constantly report of more shootings and murders. Kersey seeks out the men who destroyed his life and wants his revenge. We as the audience know this but we don’t feel a connection to his character of the loss that he has suffered. The script makes little time for self-reflection as Kersey goes out at night, kills a couple of thugs, goes home to sleep then return to work the following morning.
The action sequences are nothing special and there isn’t any sense of suspense to keep us on the edge of our seats. With the original film and Death Sentence, we would see the main character in agony. He was hurt, suffering and building up the rage to fuel his revenge. Willis, sadly displays none of these qualities. A total of nine writers worked on the screenplay up until its final draft which left out Joe Carnahan’s dialogue despite being given sole writing credit. The script lacks focus and isn’t compelling enough to work as an action film or even the weakest of thrillers.
Verdict 1 out of 5
I wasn’t a fan of the 1974 film and while this reimaging has less than two moments that I liked, fails at just about everything. The writing is bad, the pacing is slow to the point of being boring, and to call this a remake of the original film, well you couldn’t say that with a straight face. Roth makes good horror movies, and while this film isn’t a horror film it fails at suspense and action sequences that are more geared towards a movie of the week feature and that isn’t saying much. You want something more compelling and engaging then watch Death Sentence or just go back to the ’70s and enjoy Charles Bronson. This Death Wish is a major, ahem, misfire!