Cinematic Releases: Vengeance Returns: Death Wish (2018) Reviewed

Lessening the Death Wish exploitation tropes that we may have all expected, this is a nearly realistic representation of a father seeking revenge for his wife's death. 

In a grieving nation and a time period that's been gripped by terrifying gun violence, director Eli Roth manages to display a massive amount of self control in a remake of the classic Charles Bronson vengeance saga, Death Wish. 

Starring a newly invigorated Bruce Willis as Dr. Paul Kersey, the actor returns from the dregs of straight to video films to bring back exactly what he's always done best. At long last the formative star of the Die Hard saga has returned to lend his slick persona to a character that would have failed in lesser hands. And for once, Mr. Roth shows us what he can do behind the camera when he's not trying to convince a horror fandom of what he can do to impress them. Hands down, this is Eli's best directorial effort to date and proof that remakes can actually be entertaining when done right. 

Hey you. Die. Harder. Hardest. 

Updating the story of the 1974 film, this Death Wish modernizes the classic nearly note for note. Other than changing Kersey from an architect to a surgeon, the script follows the exact same premise. Using the internet age to bring the tale of Kersey into our modern world works with precision as the anti-hero, Glock toting Grim Reaper decides to start eliminating violent street criminals at his own whim. Luckily for audiences, Willis has decidedly upped his game here and feels emotionally vested in the world he violently inhabits. With the tireless Vincent D'Onofrio playing his brother, Frank Kersey, the two actors have a natural interplay that never feels forced or unrealistic. Both offer something they haven't done in a while. They take a large step back and portray caring individuals with real humanity. 

Taking a rest from horror, Roth's updated version of Death Wish features a great supporting cast that includes our Breaking Bad favorite Dean Norris once again playing the cop. What can we really say? Norris always delivers when he's playing a snarky detective. Kimberly Elise serves as a great counterpart that helps balance his detail oriented character. Perhaps the most stunning thing about this entire project is that Roth finally understands character development and how to offer a congruent story. This Death Wish is even paced, only goes for the gore when needed, and attempts to bring some realism to the gun play. There are actual stakes here. Using a screenplay by Joe Carnahan (Narc), Death Wish is brooding, cold, dark, and painful but attempts to make street vengeance a real thing. It succeeds. 

Hank! You lived! Good god, man!

A good remake should reproduce the original story as it updates it to modern themes or ideas. Going in, expectations were set very low. Coming out, I felt that Eli Roth paired with the proper team to make this thing happen. The amount of gunfire and death may not sit well with many right now, but it's all done in pretty good taste considering the current political climate that surrounds the gun debate. It's hard to imagine that the studio did not have some amount of sway over a director that usually goes for the gusto. But, it all works for the betterment of a feature that could have been an offensive piece of trash. Death Wish 2018 is the vengeance movie we needed right now. 

Sadly for Bruce Willis, it might be hard to remake Death Wish II due to the overzealous use of rape and over the top violence towards women. But we'll see, this might just be the next franchise for the star.