By Bradley Griffith
“Death Wish” is the 2018 re-make of the 1974 cult classic film of the same name starring Charles Bronson. Bruce Willis takes the reins from Bronson as the main character of the story. If you liked the original movie, or even if you didn’t, do yourself a favor and do not pay good money to see the remake.
Dr. Paul Kersey (Willis) is a trauma surgeon in Chicago. He lives a normal life for a trauma surgeon, meaning he lives in relative luxury. He and his wife, Lucy (Elisabeth Shue, and daughter, Jordan (Camilla Marrone), live in a very nice suburban home. Jordan will leave for college soon and Paul and Lucy will have to deal with an empty nest. The family lives a comfortable life away from all the violence that has been plaguing Chicago.
Until one night, on Paul’s birthday, his entire world is destroyed. Just before they were set to leave for his birthday dinner Paul is called back to the hospital for an emergency. Three men who thought the family would be out celebrating Paul’s birthday enter their house. Unfortunately, Lucy and Jordan fought back against the attackers.
Paul finishes with the surgery he was called in to perform and finds that his wife and daughter have been brought into the hospital with gunshot wounds. One has already passed away and the other is on life support.
Paul is not the kind of guy to take the law into his own hands. He doesn’t even own a gun. But after he stops two men from assaulting a woman in an alley (and is beaten for his trouble), Paul gets an idea. Violence is skyrocketing in Chicago and no one seems to be able to do anything to stop it. The police are making no headway in their investigation into the attack and robbery of Paul’s family. Paul decides to take matters into his own hands. He steals a gun from a gangbanger at his hospital and sets out to exact revenge on those who attacked his family, and any other criminal that crosses his path.
First of all, this may be the worst acting performance of Bruce Willis’ career. I would say that I’m not sure he can believably portray a trauma surgeon, except I am certain that he can’t. He has absolutely no emotional range. Even though one member of his family is murdered and the other is in a coma on life support, Willis looks like he is having just another day at the office. He should be devastated, but acts as if nothing is wrong.
Willis is much better at the vigilante role than the trauma surgeon or devastated father and husband role. Once the movie turns to Willis seeking vengeance it gets a little better, but not much. Bruce Willis with a gun in his hand is much more believable than Bruce Willis with a scalpel in his hand. The best part of the movie is the debate over whether the unknown vigilante is a hero or no better than the criminals he is killing.
Willis is not the only actor who seemed to be mailing in their performance. Vincent D’Onofrio as Paul’s brother and Dean Norris (Hank from “Breaking Bad”) as the lead detective into the attacks at the Kersey home were also pretty bland. If the product on the screen is any indication, the actors knew this was going to be a bad movie, they were just there for a paycheck.
The story wasn’t much better than the acting. Movies about revenge should pretty much write themselves. Instead, “Death Wish” was filled with so many plot holes that the entire movie was unbelievable. Also, the story created no tension. Even the climax of the movie was uneventful. If a movie about shooting and killing can be boring, this was it.
It’s unusual for a movie about vengeance to have no real emotional center, to not make you angry and emotional. Despite the subject matter, “Death Wish” is not only boring, it has no heart.
Rated R for strong bloody violence and language throughout.