Published on March 1st, 2018 | by gareth0
For Dr. Paul Kersey (Bruce Willis), life is good but at a crossroads. With his birthday coming up, his daughter Jordan (Camila Morrone) is preparing to leave their affluent Chicago home to start college in New York.
His wife Lucy (Elisabeth Shue) knows this is a good thing for their daughter but also knows that it is a turning point in their lives as they will soon be facing an empty nest.
Sadly their ideal life is turned upside down when a home invasion and robbery turns unexpectedly violent leaving Lucy dead and Jordan in a coma. A distraught Paul finds little solace in therapy or in the support of his brother Frank (Vincent D’Onofrio) who is putting his own life back together.
Frustrated by the inability of the police to find those responsible and bring them to justice; Paul becomes even more and more frustrated as the weeks pass. Paul eventually comes into possession of a gun and begins to practice with it which eventually leads him to taking to the streets in a Hoody. When a chance encounters has him gun down two criminals, Paul finds a sudden rush from his experience, especially when it was captured by an onlooker and posted online. Thanks to his face being hidden, the media dubs him the “Grim Reaper” and Paul begins a campaign of vigilante justice as he tracks down those responsible for his suffering and looks to exact a brutal revenge.
The movie directed by horror icon Eli Roth is a faithful update of the Charles Bronson classic. Paul is now Doctor Vs an Architect and Chicago not New York serves as the setting, but the tone and subject matter of the film is very much the same. Roth does show his horror background with a couple of killings that are a bit gruesome but they are not overly gratuitous as he cuts away from the carnage instead of lingering on it.
What I found most satisfying is how the film moved at a slow and almost deliberate pace. This was not a run and gun action film like many of the past films Willis has done. His Kersey is an everyman who decides to take extraordinary measures when he believes the law has failed him.
He moves at a steady pace and even in the most frantic moments, moves with the speed one would expect of a man of his years who has only recently fired a gun. Although effective he is at times unsteady with his shorts and actions and his inexperience shows.
It was refreshing to see combat on screen by a character that seemed real vs a polished officer or combat vet.
The cast was solid and really worked well with one another and you could see the struggle they faced with the situations presented to them. The audience at my press screening responded well to the film and seemed to get behind Paul as he embarked on his crusade. I am very curious to see in this time of controversy about gun laws how the film will be received.
For me, “Death Wish” is a very entertaining retelling of a well-known story that still holds up and still asks many difficult questions about our society and how to best protect the ones we love.
3.5 stars out of 5.