2018 | DIRECTOR. ELI ROTH | REVIEW BY SHAUN CRAWFORD.
So now, in the time of reboots, reworkings, rehashes and remakes, it’s no surprise that DEATH WISH should get the treatment too. However, unlike other remakes of films from those bygone eras DEATH WISH has surprisingly stuck to its proverbial guns and delivered a film as violent and right-wing as its source.
In these increasingly liberal times we live in a conservative fantasy like DEATH WISH doesn’t, on the surface, seem to have an audience or, at the very least, have an audience that would be willing to admit to liking the finished product publicly. The films ethos of an-eye-for-an-eye certainly didn’t strike a chord with any discernable audience and, as such, disappeared from its domestic theatrical release within one week of it opening.
It fared worse in the US where left-leaning critics went so far as to label it as ‘alt-right’ and ‘racist’, branding the film (rightly or wrongly) before most audiences had a chance to view it. Controversy and intended audience aside, how does Eli Roth’s take on DEATH WISH stack up? The answer is: it’s fine.
Writer Joe Carnahan’s take on Brian Garfield’s source novel doesn’t deviate in any major ways from the premise (read: mild-mannered man’s family killed, mild-mannered man kills everyone responsible) so all we’re left with is another 100-minute film of watching an ordinary man find extraordinary ways of dispensing baddies. So it goes. We’ve all seen worse.
Willis, whose performances of late seem to have varied, to say the least, turns the charm on as surgeon (not architect, this time) Paul Kersey, whose wife and daughter (Elizabeth Shue and Camila Morrone respectfully) become the victims of a home invasion. Feeling let-down by the judicial system and the law, and their lack of resources, Kersey takes matters into his own hands and seeks out the perpetrators and delivers his own brand of justice, as it were.
It’s handsomely lensed by Dutch cinematographer Rogier Stoffers and Vincent D’Onofrio props up the suffering family angle with a tender turn as Kersey’s brother Frank, but ultimately, regardless of how brave Roth and his cohorts were in sticking to their guns and delivering an outstandingly un-PC remake in wildly PC times, DEATH WISH 2018 doesn’t bring anything new to the table.
*Death Sentence, directed by James Wan, was based on Brian Garfield's 1975 novel of the same name (itself a direct sequel to Death Wish).