The old saying you get what you pay for rings true with the latest remake of the 1970s classic, “Death Wish.”
Unlike its predecessor, which was raw and gritty, the new film loses a little bit of that attitude and seems a bit more polished.
In his role as a trauma surgeon, Dr. Paul Kersey (Bruce Willis) faces death on a daily basis. He sees how fragile life is and works to make every moment with his family count. However, Kersey’s world comes to a screeching halt when there is a break-in at his home — his wife is murdered, and his daughter sustains injuries that place her in a coma.
As time progresses, police turn up no leads or suspects. Kersey retreats into himself more and more, consumed with a feeling of helplessness.
With no answers coming from the police, Kersey decides to take action. He hits the streets to track down the men who killed his wife and harmed his daughter. During this quest, Kersey takes on a new role to prevent others from becoming a victim like himself. To carry out this mission he brandishes a gun and wears a hoodie.
Remakes are becoming more and more of a staple at the movie theater. Hollywood is looking at the past hoping to cash in on the success of yesterday. The new "Death Wish" is a product of this culture where no new narratives are being crafted for audiences to enjoy. Stagnation is the new norm, and it stinks.
With that said, “Death Wish” is not a bad movie but is far from taking home any Oscars. When I purchased my ticket, I knew right away what I was expecting to happen on the screen. The trailer makes no bones about it.
It is also Willis at his best — kicking butt and taking names as he goes about on his quest for vengeance.
I think that Willis is an excellent successor to Charles Bronson who played Kersey in the original film series. Willis' portrayal to me is a milder version of John McClane who lives in the suburbs. He might have settled down and taken up golf, but when danger appears he can still throw down with the best of them.
As Willis develops the character, you can see Kersey’s sense of right and wrong flip and the moral dilemma he faces. This moment comes as Kersey is looking at a police bulletin board filled with the names of murder victims. The lead detective tells him to “have faith.” Kersey replies, “How did faith work out for them?”
Despite all the positives that Willis brings to the table I still think Bronson’s performance is a little bit better. The rawness and intensity that Bronson gave made the character seem more real. It provides an edge and a connection with the audience.
The other issue the film faces is today’s culture. "Death Wish" does not have a moment that makes it stand out from similar movies with a darker tone. The trailer does offer some promise of that, but it never fully delivers on it. Instead, it leaves a lot of unanswered questions.
If your looking for something has some intensity and some action then “Death Wish” fits the bill. The experience of seeing this film is like a warm blanket where is it very comforting and familiar.
I give “Death Wish” three and a half mustaches out of five.
This movie is rated R for strong bloody violence and language throughout. It runs 107 minutes.