Ohboy. Here we go! Death Wish, is of course, a remake of the 1974 Charles Bronson film. Full disclosure: I’ve never seen the original. Paul Kersey (the drowsiest Bruce Willis I’ve ever seen) is a successful surgeon who lives in a beautiful house with his beautiful wife (HI ELISABETH SHUE I LOVE YOU FOREVER) and his beautiful daughter.
Really, the only downer in this guy’s life is his deadbeat brother who honestly isn’t even that much of a deadbeat — probably because he’s played by Vincent D’onofrio, and like, how can you hate on Vincent? His brother just needs to borrow money a lot, which, honestly, Paul must have to spare. That fucking house. Jesus.
Anyway! Everything goes sideways when his beautiful wife loudly exclaims what time they’re all going to dinner that weekend for Paul’s birthday, and the obviously shifty valet makes note of this, finds their home address via his car’s navigation system, and plans a robbery (see also: that fucking house. JESUS). Unfortunately for the Kerseys, Paul gets called into the hospital, dinner is cancelled, and the robbery turns into a home invasion ending up with his wife getting killed and his daughter being bludgeoned into a coma.
Paul quickly realizes the cops have too much on their plates to find these criminals — something we KNOW because Roth insists on piping in radio & TV alerts about ALL THE SHOOTINGS in Chicago every 5 seconds — so when a gun conveniently falls off another criminal at the hospital, he stuffs it into his scrubs, dons a grey hoodie, and decides to take matters into his own hands by becoming a crime-fighting vigilante that the public quickly names, “The Grim Reaper.”
Here’s the thing: Eli Roth only makes movies that 12-year-old Eli Roth wants to see. I’m usually okay with that, because what he’s really good at is the humor and the gore and that’s, you know, sometimes enough for me … as long as the film is enjoyable.
Death Wish is definitely not enjoyable. It had the potential to be, if Roth would have just pushed it farther until it was obvious over-the-top satire. You can see glimpses of it, like in the way he pokes fun at gun stores: The “Jolly Roger” is staffed by young, blond women in push-up bras and camo tanks, who pout when they shoot and promise that the paperwork required to purchase all the guns you could possibly want is just a formality, and won’t even take that long.
He could have turned that shit up to 11, and then the scenes of old man Willis cleaning his gun and learning how to shoot via YouTube videos would have been more hilarious (John McClane doesn’t know how to shoot? WTF?) and less terrifyingly, OMG all these “Make America Great Again” motherfuckers are going to copy this shit at home and we are all. doomed.
Yeah, I don’t really need to say this because it’s common sense (and also everyone else is already saying it), but making a movie about vigilante justice right now, in the era of 45, is tone-deaf as fuck. Do I believe that Roth meant to froth up the MAGA-NRA fanatics with this film? No, I don’t. I just think he didn’t push it hard enough to make it obvious that he was actually making fun of them. But also, it’s 2018, not 1974. So maybe a remake of this shit isn’t really what we need right now.
Death Wish was a movie. It had some quality Roth-style gore, including some pretty creative use of battery acid, but that’s about all I can really say. I’ll likely forget all about it by next week.