Death Wish - Review
To be a successful reboot, a new element or angle needs to be brought to it. Take True Grit for example. Both the John Wayne version and the Jeff Bridges version are fantastic, because they bring a lot of different elements to the same story. Bruce Willis stars in a remake of the Charles Bronson film Death Wish. Continue reading to see how it handled the reboot formula.
The short answer: Not well. I mean, the movie is fine. It gets you from point A to point B just fine. But it is utterly forgettable. As someone who worships at the altar of the greatest action movie of all time - Die Hard - I will always be happy to see a Bruce Willis action vehicle. But it's ironic that Willis plays a doctor in this film, because of how clinical the movie actually is.
Willis seems bored through most of the movie. I don't know if he's projecting what the audience was going to feel or not. The problem is, Willis isn't believable as a character who doesn't know how to use a gun. He has been doing action movies for years, so he's bad at faking being bad with a gun.
The villains are the standard, "mustache-twirling" ones. One dimensional pawns for Willis to kill. The formula added no depth or had anything to distinguish itself from the Bronson version. There is no reason for this movie to exist.
The other problem, which is not the films fault, is the timing of the release. A gun heavy vigilante movie weeks after a horrible tragedy involving a shooter at a high school in Florida is not going to win many people over. However, in the current climate, if they were to wait until this wasn't a problem, they would never have a window to release the movie.
A vanilla, by-the-book movie can work, if you have a charismatic cast to enhance it. There is nobody memorable to do that except for Vincent D'Onofrio, who plays Willis's brother, Frank.
Which brings me to the easiest fix the movie could have made - and that is switching the brother roles. D'Onofrio should have played the father who became "The Grim Reaper", and Willis should have played the brother with the shady past. D'Onofrio is one of the best actors working today, and he could have brought an emotional resonance to the film that was sorely missing.
Movies with older action leads - like Taken with Liam Neeson, certainly have an audience. But they have an element of intrigue to them that Death Wish is lacking. I saw the film once. I didn't hate it, but I didn't like it either. It was instantly forgettable and in some ways, that is worse than a bad movie made with passion and love. Indifference is the death of art.
Even in this age of remakes and reboots, Death Wish is an odd choice. There is no shortage of stories of a father wanting revenge against the people who destroyed their family. It could have been made its own thing.
This review should give you the perfect example of what the movie is - if it was really good, I would have a lot to comment on. If it was really bad I would have a lot to pick apart and assess here. But its neither, there's no depth to whatsoever. So the review itself is thin.
If you skip Death Wish, even if you like these kind of movies, you won't be missing much. I always encourage people to form their own opinion and see the movie for themselves of course, but this is a tough sell.
There are much better options out there, but if you're so intrigued: Death Wish is in theaters everywhere.