Thursday, June 14, 2018

Movie Review: "Death Wish" (2018)

Image Source
Movie"Death Wish"
Director: Eli Roth
Year: 2018
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 47 minutes

A mild-mannered surgeon's life is turned upside down when masked criminals rob his house, murder his wife, and shoot his daughter, leaving her in a coma. A short time later, he takes it upon himself to get a gun and become a vigilante on a crusade for revenge. 
"I know it's a process, I'm just starting to wonder about the result." (Image Source)
Is there a difference between vengeance and justice? "Death Wish" is directed by Eli Roth, who is best known for his torture-porn horror movies "Hostel," "Hostel 2," and "The Green Inferno." The story is written by Joe Carnahan, who has written films like "Smokin' Aces," "The A-Team," and "The Grey." This film is a remake of the 1974 Charles Bronson film of the same name, which in turn was adapted from a novel by Brian Garfield. Paul Kersey (Bruce Willis) is a mild-mannered surgeon and a dedicated family man. One evening after he is called into work, some home invaders break into his house to rob him. In the process, these intruders shoot his wife Lucy (Elisabeth Shue) and daughter Jordan (Camila Morrone). Lucy tries to fight them off but is killed. Jordan is left for dead and winds up in a coma. When the local police aren't solving the crime as quickly as he would like, Paul stumbles upon a massive piece of evidence and an illegally acquired gun. He makes the drastic decision to become a vigilante and embarks upon a quest for revenge.
"Is he a zero or a hero?" (Image Source)
"Death Wish" is a pretty standard, extremely generic revenge thriller that is banking off of the name of the original vigilante justice film from the 1970's to attract viewers. Bruce Willis completely phones in his performances as Paul Kersey, fulfilling his role in a manner which we can only describe as "as bland and dry as week-old French bread." There is no passion in his performance whatsoever. When his wife and daughter are shot, he shows about as much emotion as he would if he were taking a comfortable shit. Willis looks like he's trying not to laugh in every other scene and it is distracting as hell to watch.

Director Eli Roth takes his affinity for gore and guts and unnecessarily brings it into "Death Wish" by adding some particularly graphic and gruesome deaths that don't need to be included. Some of the killings in this film are super over-the-top. While they look cool, they are wholly unnecessary. Roth and writer Joe Carnahan also seem to want to have a debate about vigilante justice as we see random clips of talk shows hosts and podcasters debating whether or not "The Grim Reaper," as Dr. Kersey has been dubbed, is a criminal or hero. There are also moments that revolve around the gun issue as excessively wacky NRA TV-style commercials for a local gun store play on television that feel like they are meant to be satirical, but aren't quite smart enough to capitalize on the zaniness fully. It seems like there is a commentary buried somewhere in this story about how easy it is to obtain a gun. It feels like this is meant to be biting but only nibbles with foam rubber teeth. It appears as if Roth is stuck between making fun of gun culture and glorifying it at the same time.... and he just can't have it both ways.
"If a man really wants to protect what's his, he has to do it for himself." (Image Source)
We have seen parental and spousal revenge flicks in the past. Movies like this are a dime a dozen and can often be well made, occasionally fun shoot-'em-up films. "Death Wish" has a thin, commonplace story and doesn't do enough to distinguish itself in an already crowded genre. Add this to a phoned-in lead performance by Bruce Willis and you've got yourself a recipe for a mundane watch. The direction is all over the place, and Eli Roth really made a mess by trying to have his cake and eating it too. Leave this one in the lurch.

My Rating: 4/10
BigJ's Rating: 4.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.4/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 17%
Do we recommend this movie: No.

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