Death Wish (2 stars)

Death Wish

Distasteful remake from director Eli Roth that sees Bruce Willis out for revenge

Hostel director Eli Roth delivers a contentious remake of Michael Winner's 1974 movie about a New York architect who becomes a one-man killing machine after the murder of his wife. While that starred veteran tough guy Charles Bronson, Roth has his own seasoned action hero in the shape of Bruce Willis. The character retains the same name, Paul Kersey, but Willis's version is a Chicago surgeon, a man used to saving lives not taking them.

On the night Kersey is forced to cancel his birthday dinner to attend a hospital emergency, his wife Lucy (Elisabeth Shue) and daughter Jordan (Camila Morrone) are attacked in their family home by masked robbers. Two shots later and Lucy is dead, with Jordan left in a coma. After the shock, the grief, the helplessness and the realisation that the police have little chance in catching the perpetrators, Kersey sets out on a quest for his own personal brand of vengeance.

In the current American climate, with Parkland fresh in the memory and the issue of gun control raging, making any film that explicitly fetishises weapons seems downright irresponsible. There's a scene where Kersey visits a gun store, where the perky female clerk, dressed in a low-cut top, guides him through the various options available. Reminiscent of the 'Chicks Who Love Guns' skit from Quentin Tarantino's Jackie Brown, it also feels like a campaign ad for the NRA.

As Kersey dons a hoodie and arms himself, he begins by taking out random felons, gradually gathering the clues needed to find those who invaded his home. When he tracks the guilty parties down, the film gleefully revels in the carnage (one even gets his head squashed like a melon by a car tyre). With his star in taciturn mode, Roth does manage to capture the uncomfortable nature of Winner's original – minus the horrific sexual violence, thankfully. But, unless you're a gun nut, this will make you feel very queasy.

General release from Fri 6 Apr.

Death Wish

  • 2 stars
  • 2018
  • US
  • 1h 47min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Eli Roth
  • Cast: Bruce Willis, Vincent D'Onofrio, Elisabeth Shue

Chicago surgeon Paul Kersey (Willis) takes the law into his own hands after his wife is killed and his daughter left in a coma. At a time when the issue of gun control is raging, Roth’s distasteful remake of Winner’s original amounts to a campaign ad for the NRA.