This new DEATH WISH is no classic, but it’s an old-school action movie.
Plot: Dr. Paul Kersey is an experienced trauma surgeon, a man who has spent his life saving lives. After an attack on his family, Paul embarks on his own mission for justice.
Review: Eli Roth’s remake of the 1974 Michael Winner 1974 film starring Charles Bronson casts Bruce Willis in the role of family man and emergency room surgeon Paul Kersey. On his birthday, his wife (played by Elisabeth Shue) is killed by home invaders, while his teenage daughter (Camila Morrone) is left in a coma after the vicious attack. Kersey reels with depression for weeks and watches helplessly as the police fumble about their job trying to catch the gang who ruined Kersey’s life. By luck, Kersey gets a gun off the books and also scores a lead on one of the gang members he’s after. He goes out into the night completely unprepared and ends up a viral YouTube sensation when he kills a couple of carjacking thugs. Wearing a hoodie (his face is concealed in the video), he’s hailed as the grim reaper of Chicago, and finding that he actually enjoyed the experience of killing bad guys, he goes out night after night, searching for those scum suckers responsible for his transformation into a night vigilante. He’s smarter – but not necessarily wiser or savvier – than those he’s hunting, so the game is on between Kersey and the vile trash lurking in the darkest corners of the city.
Last year, I was lucky to attend a very early screening of DEATH WISH, starring Bruce Willis (and based on a book by Brian Garfield). It’s no secret that I am a fervent supporter of action stars and actors who aren’t action stars, but are known for their action movies. I enjoyed the new DEATH WISH. For those unaware, it’s a remake of a really good Charles Bronson movie (with the same title), and that film spawned four sequels, some of which I liked. This new film is not a “great” movie and it doesn’t try to be one. It’s exactly as advertised, and what’s actually special about it is the fact that it was widely theatrically released in this very precarious time we’re living in where gun violence is a vital issue in our country. It’s also special for a number of other reasons. Bruce Willis hasn’t had a big release like this in some years. Technically, this can be considered his “comeback” movie. It’s a worthy return for him, and I wonder how audiences will respond to him again after his significant absence from local multiplexes. Lastly, this is an important movie because it’s a very masculine film. For years I’ve been aware that masculinity and being a strong and confidant (and mature) male has been under attack in our country. I can’t really speak for the world at large, but being a man, being a family man, and being clear about being a man has become something that is under attack from all sides. Masculine heroes, policemen, soldiers, men with morals, guys with a “code” they live by, and action stars all across the board have become outmoded and are targets for a rapidly evolving and forcefully changing America. It’s important to support strongly portrayed heroes, real soldiers, real cops, and men with morals and codes, and even action stars who more or less go out there and pretend to be heroes, soldiers, cops, and men with morals and codes. This new DEATH WISH is no classic, but it’s an old-school action movie about such a man. Granted, he becomes a vigilante who breaks the law by killing bad guys, but my point is that it’s a manly movie, and I am in full support of manly movies that portray men in a very masculine light. I wasn’t crazy about this year’s other masculine films 12 STRONG or DEN OF THIEVES (the latter of which had a ridiculous amount of phony testosterone in it), but I appreciate that there are still films out there that aren’t afraid to appeal to men and fans of men’s adventure-type stories. Superheroes don’t cut it. Muscles grafted on suits and superpowers are cheating. No fair. But Bruce Willis with a gun? Now we’re talking!
The new Blu-ray / DVD / digital HD combo pack from MGM / Fox of Death Wish contains some ugly cover art that isn’t going to do much to sell this movie other than to the lowest common denominator who only care that Bruce Willis is in it. Special features include an audio commentary by Roth and the producer, as well as deleted scenes, and a few behind the scenes features.