Death Wish Review
Eli Roth is a very interesting director known for having hardcore gore and violence in his films. Funnily enough, Death Wish might be the least gory out of all the movies this filmmaker has made in his entire career. It serves both as a reimagining of the old Death Wish directed by Michael Winner, and an adaptation of a novel written by Brian Garfield.
Bruce Willis plays Paul Kersey, originally played by Charles Bronson in the 1974 film, who is a doctor grieving over the death of his wife and dealing with his daughter being in a coma after being attacked by burglars. Angry at the fact that the ones who hurt his family are running free in the city, he seeks revenge and wants to kill them. With Paul also wanting to hunt down other criminals as a vigilante, we now have ourselves a campy yet fun action thriller.
Death Wish does a good job showing the pain and suffering the main protagonist is going through. Bruce Willis manages to make his character both believable and likeable, and he’s also good in the action scenes. It’s weird at first seeing a doctor killing bad guys efficiently after never holding a gun before in his life, but you let it go as the movie goes on. As mentioned before, while it’s the least gory out of all the films Eli Roth directed, the kills are still bloody and quite brutal. It’s a cool transition seeing him evolve from a grieving doctor to a vigilante killing criminals in the city. The movie also deals with the issue of people trusting cops to handle murder cases, which is actually handled very well and somewhat feels like relevant social commentary. For example, they address the fact that police officers only arrive after the murder has been committed.
While the character of Paul Kersey is the best part of the movie, the main villains themselves are incredibly forgettable and underdeveloped. You’re not going to care about them, and you even forget that they’re in the story. It would have been better to know why these guys are truly despicable human beings instead of just making them clichéd robbers you probably have seen in other action movies before. It’s not supposed to be taken seriously, but that doesn’t mean they have to act like uninspired and unmemorable caricatures. It sucks seeing his wife get killed, and it might have been interesting to see more of that aspect explored in the film. Eli Roth’s directing style has heavily improved in Death Wish, but Joe Carnahan’s dialogue is sometimes hit or miss in some scenes. There are moments that are just completely cringe-worthy with stupid dialogue that will make you question why it’s even in the movie in the first place. The second act, while fun, does have some unnecessary moments that the editor might have forgotten to cut out, and it would have kept the runtime at a better pace.
Death Wish, while not a perfect movie, is thrilling. But it can get campy at times. While you can’t deny that it’s intense and entertaining, you still wish they would have taken more time fixing some issues with the film. The pros – especially Bruce Willis’s performance and the action scenes – definitely outweigh the cons. By the end, you’ll be glad you saw an intriguing popcorn flick about a guy seeking revenge against criminals.
Death Wish is now playing in theatres.