Eli Roth’s Death Wish doesn’t deserve the massive amount of hate and disgust it has been receiving, and that is a fact. Another fact is that Death Wish may be a remake of an “iconic” franchise, but it’s not one that I have had the pleasure to spend time watching. So going into Death Wish, all I was hoping for was to have a fun time with the film and nothing more. Did I get that much out of it?
Eli Roth is best known for his films Hostel and The Green Inferno. Both are labeled as part of the ‘torture porn’ genre of mainstream films, and I am personally a fan of both, but on very different levels. So it was pretty obvious that his version of Death Wish was going to be ultraviolent, and he didn’t disappoint in that aspect. Eli Roth manages to accomplish what most directors consecutively fail at and that is to make violence fun, even if it sends the wrong messages. Roth lets the audience decide on their own if the violent characters are making the correct decisions and who to root for. He even adds commentary to the film in the form of radio broadcasts to further help the viewers make their decisions.
Dr. Paul Kersey (Bruce Willis) is an experienced trauma surgeon who has spent his life saving others. But after a robbery gone wrong kills Dr.Kersey’s wife and sends his daughter to the ICU, he must change his ways to pursue his own justice after the police offer little hope. Jon Carnahan (The Grey) pins the script for this gory remake, and in my eyes, does the film justice in most aspects. However, his script structure seems to have a few issues with pacing between “The Reaper,” AKA Dr. Paul Kersey’s executions.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
Bruce Willis’ performance may be the best he’s given in the last decade, but that doesn’t mean it’s even close to his Die Hard acting days (obviously excluding The Fifth Entry). Even so, Eli Roth managed to capture some great scenes with Willis, which is a hard thing to accomplish these days. This gave me the impression that Willis may have had comfort in this role. Unfortunately for the other characters in the film, they are either useless avatars being sent to the slaughter or simplistic support to Kersey’s troubles. Vincent D’Onofrio is the only other character with any interesting characteristics, and they are brutally outshined by everything Willis does on screen. There are a couple of pure headache performances, that are luckily minimal in comparison to the runtime’s length, however their existence in the film at all is hard to get around.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
Ludwig Goransson’s score for Death Wish is entirely forgettable and offers nothing new to the genre. This generic action score fails to impact the viewer’s emotions and instead comes off as tacked on with little thought. That’s not to say there aren’t small fragments of music that would work in another context, or if shoved front and center would have made for a more organic and intense scene. All and all though, Goransson composed a generic action score that feels more straight to video than blockbuster material.
Eli Roth is passionate about his gore and the use of practical effects, which oddly is very sparse when compared to other entries in his filmography. The times blood and gore were used in the act of violence in the film were done nicely, but it just doesn’t manage to hit the appropriate level of over the top violence that Roth is known for. Although there are times, most represented in the trailer, where things do get to his level, it’s too far and in between for fans of the cult filmmaker.
Death Wish is a competent and enjoyable action film with Eli Roth’s infamously vicious gore and polished direction. It also happens to contain one of Bruce Willis’ best performances in years. All in all, its release just suffered from very unfortunate timing due to real life events surrounding its opening weekend for this reasonably fun revenge flick.