DEATH WISH review by Patrick Hendrickson – Eli Roth directs Bruce Willis in this violent remake

DEATH WISH review by Patrick Hendrickson – Eli Roth directs Bruce Willis in this violent remake

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Bruce Willis stars in the new thriller DEATH WISH, which is a remake of the 1974 film of the same name. Dr. Paul Kersey is a family man whose happy life comes crashing down after a robbery results in the death of his wife and the hospitalization of his daughter. Grief-stricken and frustrated by the lack of progress from the police, Kersey decides to start hunting down the men involved in the robbery, and ends up becoming a vigilante who stops any crime he comes across.

Willis genuinely seems like he is having a good time in the role of Dr. Kersey and that translates to a very enjoyable performance to watch. There is a very sudden 180 degree turn with Kersey’s character after his family is attacked, but this is more of a point in the movie’s favor as not a lot of time is wasted on boring moral debate or philosophizing on his actions. Those things are all fine and good, but they have no place whatsoever in a movie like this.

The rest of the cast does a good job as well. Vincent D’Onofrio plays Paul’s brother Frank, an ex-con trying to put his own life back on track. D’Onofrio does a good job in the role but unfortunately goes unseen for long stretches of time. Dean Norris and Kimberly Elise play the detectives assigned to the attack on the Kersey family as well as being assigned to track down the vigilante, not knowing they are in fact searching for Dr. Kersey. Their characters are not particularly competent at their jobs so they mostly serve as comedic relief and do an admirable job in that regard.

The action of DEATH WISH is the highlight of the production and this is a major point in its favor. There are not any massive shoot-outs nor is there much hand-to-hand combat, usually Kersey is only facing off against one or two people at most. These scenes are usually very quick, very bloody, and very enjoyable to watch.

The only detriment to be noted about the production would be that occasionally some of the comedy falls flat and even worse feels out of place. There are multiple interludes that focus on media reactions to Kersey’s actions as a vigilante, usually with the pretense of questioning whether it is right or wrong for him to be doing what he’s doing. This can be something of a mood killer as these scenes are usually the direct follow-up to the action. Though even this can be a good thing because it brings the energy back down after the more intense action cues.

DEATH WISH as cheesy a movie as one might imagine. There’s a lot of fun to be had in watching it, as long as nobody goes into it expecting any kind of subtle or poignant exploration of grief or violence. The majority of the cast all do a great job adding to this fun feeling, and they all seem to be having fun themselves. Overall, this Eli Roth-directed remake earns a 4/5.

DEATH WISH opens March 2, 2018

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