HOLLYWOOD—Remakes, it seems about a decade ago it was the hugest trend in the horror genre, well now that trend has seemed to spill over into the action genre as well. The biggest issue I witness time and time again with remakes in Hollywood is the filmmakers aim to do one of two things: 1) Recreate the original with what they consider a fresh look, but follow the same storyline 2) Utilize new faces, utilize similar strands of DNA from the original, and provide very little variation.
Hollywood that doesn’t work, hence the reason there are evident issues with the 2018 version of “Death Wish” starring action-star Bruce Willis. Now, I’ll admit, I didn’t see the original 1974 classic “Death Wish” until about a year ago starring Charles Bronson. And I have to admit it was a thrill a second to watch. It was something vastly different in the cinematic arena, and introduced audiences to the anti-hero; a character who was doing bad things, but for the right reason. On top of that, the film was ladled with violence, which we’ve seen in movies, but this was a bit more visceral.
So what issues lie with the 2018 version? Hmm, quite a few, but let’s start with the casting of Bruce Willis who portrays Paul Kersey (not too much of a surprise there with the name right)? Unlike the original, Willis’ character is an actual surgeon. Which was something I could roll with, but to see this guy who saves lives to instantly go to taking lives was a bit of a stretch for me. It’s really irrelevant for me to disclose the narrative because most of you already know it: Paul’s wife Lucy (Elisabeth Shue) and his daughter Jordan (Camilla Morrone) are attacked at their home in the middle of the night. His wife is killed from her injuries, while his daughter is badly injured, but recovers over time. Frustrated that Detective Kevin Raines (Dean Norris) is unable to locate and arrest the suspects responsible for his wife’s death, Paul decides to play vigilante.
Now, some would have to acknowledge that the current culture of gun control in America plays a prevalent role in the audience’s reception to the narrative. I mean it’s no longer an elephant in the room; it’s an issue front-and-center. In addition, the setting of the movie is questionable. We’re talking about Chicago, a city plagued with violence right now, and to have a vigilante running around murdering bad people for good reasons, while many would call heroic is a dicey issue.
On top of that, the characters in the movie are so one note. I thought Vincent D’Onofrio’s character Frank, who happens to be Paul’s troubled brother could have been utilized a bit more to twist the narrative in a direction that would intrigue the audience and keep them slightly on edge. Unfortunately, that is not the case here. On top of that, the acting from Mike Epps as Paul’s friend was cringe-worthy to watch, and there just isn’t any chemistry to make the viewer want to care about any of these people.
Director Eli Roth, who is notorious for going to dark realms in the world of horror, just misses the mark here, by simply giving the audience the same version of the 1974 classic with better technology. The difference being I actually cared about Paul Kersey’s character and his motivation to change the city he lived in, unlike this one where we just see someone utilizing intricate methods to dispatch of villains. I thought that was a different movie, one called “Final Destination” where Death dispatched of people in creative, yet gory fashion?