“Death Wish” is a remake of the 1974 Charles Bronson film of the same name and it stars Bruce Willis as a surgeon whose family is brutally attacked by robbers and he decides to become a vigilante who sets out to find the men who dealt him this tragic blow.
I’ve never seen the original film, but when I first saw the trailer for this movie, my immediate reaction was a loud groan. I personally have a funny relationship with Bruce Willis movies, it being that I’ve severely grown to dislike Willis as an actor and a person in general. Various people have said that he’s an entitled prima donna who simply doesn’t care about acting anymore and it shows it a lot of his more recent performances. Bruce Willis has grown to be the very definition of a lazy, stubborn actor who’s only in movies for the paycheck, regardless of how bad the movie actually is, and that’s exactly what we have in “Death Wish”.
As far as Willis’s performance goes, it’s a standard Bruce Willis performance. He’s clearly phoning it in and there’s no emotions outside of just looking bored and lifeless. Gone are the days when Willis could play a likable John McClane or give an entertaining performance as Butch in “Pulp Fiction”. Now he’s just on auto pilot, mindlessly reading his lines, going through the motions and clearly not giving a damn about acting anymore. This is not only a wooden performance from Willis, but also an unlikable one as we’re witnessing the further decline of who was once a legit movie star.
This movie is directed by Eli Roth and his “style” is basically just throwing a lot of blood and gore on the screen. There’s a fair amount of that in this movie and there were admittedly some entertaining moments of violence that made the whole audience flinch in their seat and have an audible reaction of “OH SHIT!” It’s all done in the most mindless way possible and seeing as how Eli Roth doesn’t possess any actual talent as a director, it’s the most he can do to make the movie somewhat watchable. There’s some entertainment value in seeing Bruce Willis going around and hunting down some bad guys, but that’s not exactly a high bar to set.
When the movie isn’t showing Bruce Willis as a vigilante, it’s occasionally cutting back to a group of radio talk show hosts who are discussing Willis and his actions. The hosts are basically talking to the audience, voicing their opinions on Willis and also discussing stuff like gun violence and vigilantes, but it all feels like time-filler more than anything else. Like with a subplot involving Vincent D’Onofrio as the brother to Bruce Willis, it adds nothing to the film as a whole and you really feel as if it was added in to make the movie longer than 30 minutes.
By and large, this movie just doesn’t add anything to the genre of crime thrillers where an older guy has to take things into his own hands in order to get revenge. This movie is full of red herrings, generic villains, and the only thing that makes it stand out is its surprising lack of tonal consistency. There’ll be scenes of extreme violence, followed by Bruce Willis cracking jokes and smiling, even after the aforementioned incident with his wife and daughter. Then they’ll go back to being serious and violent, but then back to comedic and jokey. Christ, pick a tone and stick with it, Roth.
Overall, “Death Wish” is a boring, conventional, and tonally inconsistent crime thriller. I can see people being entertained by the simple concept of a vigilante hunting down criminals with nothing but his own wits and skills, but it’s also a concept that can only carry a movie so far. The fact remains that this plot has been done countless times before and it’s starting to get stale and tiring to watch.
Rating: Some Ol’ Bullshit