‘Death Wish’ is About as Fun as Getting Shot in the Leg

A30DB002-ED21-4DFA-897B-3874AAEC8542It’s like “John Wick,” just without an interesting central protagonist, well-choreographed action sequences and sleek cinematography.

“Death Wish” is a remake/reboot of the 1974 film that starred Charles Bronson, and features Bruce Willis in the main role as a Chicago doctor who becomes a vigilante after his wife and daughter are attacked. Vincent D’Onofrio, Elisabeth Shue, Dean Norris and Kimberly Elise as Eli Roth directs.

This was originally due out last November but following the Las Vegas shooting the studio delayed it until March. Unfortunately/ironically the film now comes to us less than three weeks after the shooting in Parkland, Florida, which kicked up some debate among the already testy subject of gun control. This film doesn’t really have much to say as far as being pro- or anti-guns, but is instead just a run of the mill revenge shoot-em-up that offers little to recommend.

Bruce Wills has become a bit of a Nicolas Cage as of late, where that he’s forgone starring in theatrical releases and instead opted for low budget straight-to-DVD romps. Can’t fault either of them, they both have young kids to provide for and if they like acting and want to be in as much as possible with little reigns/demands then more power to them.

Willis has always been a capable-enough actor, and ever since “Die Hard” no one questions his ability to carry an action film. However here is is given little to do and simply looks bored, even by Willis standards. Much like Michael Keaton, Willis began his career in comedy so he always has a dry sense of humor about him and it bleeds through occasionally here, but really this is a poorly written character given little direction by Roth.

Speaking of Eli Roth, this film is a little outside his typical wheelhouse of low-budget gory horror films. There’s still plenty of excessive guts and neck-snaps but he just muddles through scene by scene without building any real momentum or sense of tension; we never really feel Willis’ chain getting shorter as the police inch in on him.

There are a few creative “Final Destination” style kills but for the most part this is a standard PG-13 film that just tries to be cool by saying an F-bomb every once and a while and toss excessive bloody spurts onto walls.

The film just looks and feels like a straight-to-video film made in the 1990s and some of the editing and filming techniques are baffling bad.

“Death Wish” isn’t so bad that you’ll wish you were dead (heh!) but it’s just bland and doesn’t even offer any social commentary to make the audience think besides “Chicago has a gun problem” and “getting guns is easy!”. If you’re a big fan of vigilante films and/or Bruce Willis then maybe you can milk enough out of this to make it worth your while, but otherwise you’re better off getting your “citizen shoots someone” fix from “John Wick.” Or, you know, the real world news.

Critic’s Grade: C–


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