Starring: Charles Bronson, Elizabeth Shue, Camilla Morone, Vincent d’Onofrio
Directed by: Eli Roth
Rating: ***(3 stars)
The Death Wish remake is actually a far better film than the original 1974 film that opened up a debate on vigilantism. For one, Bruce Willis is a better actor than Charles Brosnon. In Willis’s jurisdiction the trigger-happy hero Dr Paul Kersey is a cocooned hardworking doctor who turns into a gun-friendly butcher when his family is attacked.
It’s a simple story of gun violence, not quite the politically correct story to tell at the time when gun-purchase laws are being seriously questioned in America. As it turns out, political correctness is the last thing on director Eli Roth’s mind. Turning the debate of vigilantism on its head, the film asks the crucial question of self-help for crime victims: what if it is your loved ones who are attacked?Would you sit around waiting for the law to take its own course?
Brice Willis plays the surgeon(he was an architect in the Bronson version) with a believable equanimity.His crime elimination in a hood is shown with plenty of inner anger and not too much-exteriorized violence. This restrained anger is according to me the film’s greatest strength. In the original, the violence against the hero’s family was far more gruesome and reprehensible.Here in the remake, the director keeps the proceedings on a tight leash, unleashing the ire in waves of bridled vendetta.
The performances are tailored to the uni-dimensional plot . Bruce Willis’ self-employed hooded-hero act is constantly energized by his kinetic personality. The ever-reliable Vincent d’Onofrio is effective in an underwritten but well-balanced part. The investigative officers (one overweight white male, the other slim black female, to balance out the number of Black African shooters infesting the narrative) come across as foolish.
Not their fault. If the law enforcement tools were effective this film couldn’t be made.