Death Wish (2018) Review



Eli Roth’s Death Wish could never be a patch on the original classic and some will dismiss it for blasphemy but if you can let that go and enjoy it for what it is then it’s a blood-soaked riot.

Plot: Dr. Paul Kersey is a surgeon who often sees the consequences of the city’s violence in the emergency room. When home intruders brutally attack his wife and young daughter, Kersey becomes obsessed with delivering vigilante justice to the perpetrators. As the anonymous slayings grab the media’s attention, the public begins to wonder if the deadly avenger is a guardian angel — or the Grim Reaper itself.

Review: OK, let’s just get this out of way right now; many of us will hate this movie simply for existing. The Death Wish series is beloved among fans and understandably so; Bronson is legend and no one could ever fill his shoes.

This reboot from Eli Roth starring Bruce Willis isn’t anywhere near as good as the originals and Bruce is no Bronson but I’d be lying if I said Death Wish 2018 wasn’t a complete blast.

It’s surprisingly quite a different movie from the Bronson flavoured original with no rape scenes (thankfully) and this definitely has more of a modern popcorn movie feel. In fact they could have named this something else and got away with it.

Paul Kersey (Willis) is now a surgeon rather than an architect and unlike the first movie he goes after the people who attacked his family.

It lacks the grit of the original and is even quite different from Joe Carnahan’s initial script which was set in Los Angeles. The action this time takes place in Chicago which works to its advantage due to the city’s high crime rate. We do still get the moral dilemma with a radio DJ asking if the man known as the Grim Reaper (Kersey) is right for taking the law into his own hands and if he is any better than the people he is taking out.

Death Wish finally marks the return of Bruno with Bruce Willis showing more personality than he has in years; he is still a little stilted and I think Paul Kersey could have been played by someone more interesting but seeing Willis on the big screen taking out bad guys filled me with nostalgia.

The bodycount is nice and high with some imaginative kills and as expected with Roth directing he doesn’t skimp on bloodshed. I actually thought it was tamer than it could have been so I hope we get an extended cut on Blu-ray with more unrated violence.

In terms of modern vigilante movies I prefer James Wan’s Death Sentence as it just felt more visceral and devastating but Death Wish was far better than it had any right to be.

I really liked the score which was minimalistic but worked well with the action scenes and I’ll probably put it on the iPod soon. Am I the only person who is sick of hearing AC/DC in modern movies though? I like them as much as the next guy but they are so overused to the point where I now hate Back in Black…

I totally forgot Vincent D’Onofrio was in this and he plays Kersey’s brother Frank who finds out about his sibling’s extra-curricular activities. He is always great and I really liked Frank as a character who despite having to borrow money on a regular basis, he is loyal to his family.

One thing I’d been worried about from the trailers was the tone of the film; it made it look like there were going to be one-liners galore and Willis was essentially John McClane out for revenge. Thankfully that isn’t the case and it was mostly a case of the editing. There is some humour but generally this is a more serious movie than I was expecting.

In terms of flaws, we’ve seen this many times before and like I said I prefer Death Sentence but it could have been a lot worse. I don’t see it being a big hit at the box office due to the gun control debate that’s going on right now but like the original Death Wish sequels it may find a life on home video.

Overall, Death Wish is a refreshingly old-school revenge actioner with Willis back on form and some entertaining kills. It will never touch the original but if you can separate it from that and just enjoy it for what it is then you might just enjoy yourself. I’d be quite happy for a sequel which could go in all kinds of different directions.