Death Wish, D
Rated R, 108 minutes
Talk about bad timing. Guns. Again. The uninspiring revenge thriller "Death Wish," a remake of the 1974 Charles Bronson film of the same name, comes at a super bad time when guns are at the forefront of a national discussion on weapons and violence, yet it proudly shows off its shiny weapons. It certainly won’t help the film, a modestly entertaining yet dumb thriller loaded with the type of video-game violence that anti-gun proponents loathe.
Dr. Paul Kersey (Bruce Willis) is a surgeon who often sees the consequences of the city's violence in the emergency room. When home intruders brutally attack his wife (Elisabeth Shue) and young daughter (Camila Morrone), Kersey becomes obsessed with delivering vigilante justice to the perpetrators. As the anonymous slayings grab the media's attention, the public begins to wonder if the deadly avenger is a guardian angel -- or the Grim Reaper itself.
The lackluster, silly "Death Wish" has enough fun moments to keep an audience engaged for a minute or two, as long as they don't have to think about the big plot holes that Willis shoots through at every turn. This version is directed by "Hostel's" Eli Roth and written by "Smokin' Aces" Joe Carnahan, based on the 1974 film as well the original novel by Brian Garfield. Willis is seemingly well-suited for this type of thing given all of the action flicks he's done over the years, but he struggles in finding a real voice for the character.
That's largely due to the fact that Roth, a noted horror director and writer, isn't a good fit for the material, and his bland execution here doesn't add any pertinent statements about violence, social media or guns themselves. Carnahan's silly script doesn't help, either, failing to mention why a wealthy doctor like Dr. Kersey wouldn't have a sophisticated home security system or why the police, who initially don't have time for Dr. Kersey's case due to their enormous backlog, seem to drop everything just to focus on finding the Grim Reaper vigilante (and there has to be more than two detectives on the Chicago PD).
Roth adds a few fun moments of over-the-top violence that he is familiar with, especially when Dr. Kersey goes to torture one of the criminals in the case, even if it doesn't really add to the narrative, with a predictable, anti-climatic finale that seems very rushed. Given the director and the star, this disappointing version of "Death Wish" shoots and misfires.