Turns out Bruce Willis is playing a doctor in Eli Roth’s Death Wish remake. That’s a novel spin – in the ’74 original, Charles Bronson’s Paul Kersey was an architect before a brutal attack on his family drove him to pick up the gun and start offing random criminals. At a guess, Kersey 2.0’s knowledge of anatomy will afford Roth the chance to work in some gruesome torture scenes – something the old horror head has a certain affinity for.
Other than that? Uh, meh. Tonally, this thing seems really out of whack. Michael Winner’s original film is an ugly but fascinating piece. Brian Garfield, author of the source novel, flat out hated it, but it’s actually a fairly complex work, a knee-jerk reaction against skyrocketing crime rates in New York City. In this time of falling crime rates (the Murdoch press is lying to you, folks), what is DW18 reacting against?
It’s tempting to imagine a modern Death Wish that actually grapples with some contemporary issues. Picture a Paul Kersey whose family was gunned down in a mass shooting, a black Paul Kersey hunting trigger-happy cops, a female Kersey gunning down campus rapists. That’s some transgressive stuff – smirking Bruce Willis is just a throwback.
As presented in the marketing, though, Death Wish seems to be going for low hanging fruit, pushing the buttons of white suburbanites terrified of home invasion, gang crime, and “the other”. We’ve seen it all before. Will audiences turn out to see it again when it arrives later this year (Australian release still TBA)?
Probably. It’s an ugly world.