Filmmaker Eli Roth is passionate about the horror and thriller genre since he was young. His big debut film was Cabin Fever, and then went on to the successful hyper-violent ‘Hostile’ film series. More recently, he made ‘Green Inferno‘, which was similar to ‘Cannibal Holocaust‘. Needless to say, Roth isn’t subtle in his filmmaking, as he’s shown close up gore and torture on screen with an over-the-top style. When it was announced that Roth was sitting in the director’s chair for a remake of 1974’s classic film ‘Death Wish‘, that replaces Charles Bronson with Bruce Willis, I was excitedly intrigued to see his take on this iconic film. With writer Joe Carnahan (The Grey, Narc, Smokin’ Aces) penning the script, this updated version of ‘Death Wish‘ is quite toned down for Eli Roth’s resume, which isn’t a bad thing.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some fantastic gory moments of revenge style death and even people repairing their wounds, but the blood doesn’t flow like in a Tarantino film here. If you’re unfamiliar with the story, you’ve probably heard and seen this story play out many times before. Bruce Willis plays a surgeon named Dr. Paul Kersey who has a lovely wife (Elizabeth Shue) and a daughter who is about to enter college. All seems perfect in his world, until a trio of burglars enters their home while Paul is at work and rob and kill his wife and put his daughter into a coma. While the police aren’t finding the culprits here, Paul decides to take matter into his own hands by learning how to use a gun and track down the bad guys in Chicago.
We’ve seen this story in some form or fashion many times and nothing is different here. In fact, none of the characters are particularly memorable, which is a shame, because Vincent D’Onofrio is in the film, but is given nothing to work with, like every character in the movie, besides Willis. This is his movie to shine and he does, as he takes his cues from his previous film ‘Unbreakable‘, and uses that character here. The film plays out a lot like M. Night Shyamalan’s ‘Unbreakable‘, but instead of superpowers, Willis has a gun and a will to take out the bad guys, which is completely satisfying.
How ‘John Wick‘ is completely satisfying when he takes out the bad guys for killing his dog and you feel great that revenge is the best dish, the same feeling is earned here with ‘Death Wish‘, but it isn’t as fun nor does it have any martial arts. It’s a simple revenge flick with no major stylistic choices or memorable characters, besides Willis. The film follows the original 1974 film mostly and even ends the same fun way, which hopefully spawns a sequel, because I want to see more of this guy. Again, ‘Death Wish‘ (2018) is completely satisfying and fun.