film & game reviews, the retro way.
Based on the 1974 film, Death Wish stars Bruce Willis as a surgeon-turned-vigilante looking to avenge/protect his wife and daughter after a brutal burglary. It was directed by Eli Roth and didn't make much of a dent at the box-office upon its release.
Although there is always a market for revenge movies, even if those basically tell the exact same story every time, Death Wish still feels like an oddly timed reboot. From the trailers, there didn't seem to be anything all that new or special about this particular retelling. That said, a director like Eli Roth might have been able to introduce a schlocky quality to things, thereby making the film a bit more fun so there was always that chance.
Indeed, the film tries some different things here and there, though it remains bogged down by the uninspired premise throughout. We are quickly introduced to Dr. Paul Kersey's (Willis) family and given enough time to enjoy their company before the bad stuff happens. Paul is initially portrayed as a pretty nice guy who doesn't jump into needless confrontations. When his wife is killed and his daughter is seriously hurt then hospitalized, he goes on a revenge mission, learning about guns on the internet along the way. Because, as we all know, there's nothing more entertaining than seeing someone watch YouTube videos..
This is a much dumber movie than it should have been or, dare I say, could have been? There were a couple of ways to go in order to make this an engaging reimagining and the film attempts both, without any real commitment or consistency, making it a bit of a bumpy ride. Approaching this in a serious, gritty way à la Edge Of Darkness or Death Sentence could have been one way to go but Eli Roth only goes there very briefly, when he needs some kind of dramatic moment.
You can tell he really wants to go full Grindhouse with this but he stops short of that as well so you end up with an uneven, partly-serious, partly-ridiculous shoulder shrug of a movie when, had it picked a tone, it could have been so much more. The bad guy death scenes are straight out of a cartoon between the Home Alone-style blunders and the goofy gore effects but nothing else in the movie stands out. Bruce Willis gives a reliably not-that-interested performance and the likes of Elisabeth Shue and Vincent D'Onofrio aren't given particularly meaty roles to sink their teeth into.
This new Death Wish may not be the worst revenge movie out there but it's certainly not very good. It manages to be watchable but falls flat in every respect. You can tell there's a much better film in there somewhere and, incidentally, it's also called Death Wish.