Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Death Wish (2018) Movie Review

Death Wish (2018)
Watch the trailer
Written by: Joe Carnahan (screenplay by), Brian Garfield (from the novel by), Wendell Mayes (based on the 1974 motion picture by)
Directed by: Eli Roth
Starring: Bruce Willis, Vincent D'Onofrio, Elisabeth Shue, Dean Norris
Rated: R

After an attack on his family, trauma surgeon Dr. Paul Kersey embarks on his own mission for justice.

It's just okay. It takes too long to get to the inevitable, both in the family being assaulted and the doctor seeking revenge. We know where this movie is going, no reason to delay. A problem I had with the movie is that it inserts itself into the real world, but fails to make a statement about guns. On the surface it's arguing that everyone should be armed, but a few scenes seem to be added just for balance. If you want a revenge type movie in the same vein, check out Death Sentence, Blue Ruin, or even Taken. This could be a on the rails action movie like Taken, but it emphasizes it's set in the real world.
Skip it.

We know what this movie is, and it delays a bit too much. While only fifteen minutes elapse before Kersey's family is attacked, which still felt too long, we're forty five minutes in before he starts taking revenge. I get the movie is trying to establish emotional connections and back stories, but this just isn't that kind of movie.
One problem I had was the failure to really comment on gun control. I could forgive that if it didn't try so hard to insert itself into the real world with multiple cameos from radio personalities. Multiple times we're asked what we think about a vigilante with a gun. The movie goes there, and I couldn't help but think about the gun control debate.
The movie seems primed to be sponsored by the NRA, calling for a gun in everyone's hand. Kersey gets a few guns, kills multiple people and then lives happily ever after. The movie tries to balance this with a scene where a vigilante copy cat is killed, but it just felt tacked on. The main detective states there are so many robberies due to thieves looking for guns. You could extrapolate that to fewer guns would mean less crime, but I don't even know if that was the intent of the statement.
In the current political climate where gun control debates are fierce, this movie seemed primed to take a stance by deliberately grounding itself to the real world and asking us about the issue. While you can read into the actions of what happened, I wanted this movie to be bold and clear about it's stance, either way. 
Kersey faces no consequences for his actions and suffers no metal anguish for killing people. Granted these are bad people, but killing makes him happy. It's helps him overcome anguish better than therapy ever did. He acted as a vigilante and at the end the cops wink and nod and let him go on his way.

Compare this to the movie Death Sentence (read my review) with Kevin Bacon. It's a similar tale of revenge, but at the end the character and we are left wondering if it was worth it. That movie had stakes. You can't become a killer and come out the other side clean.

Blue Ruin (read my review) is another revenge tale where a man ill equipped to take revenge attempts it. It felt realistic as he never becomes a sharp shooting action commando. He bumbles his way through the movie.
With the Death Wish remake a gun is put into a man's hand and he's almost instantly a super vigilante. This isn't Taken. Kersey doesn't know how to handle guns, he's never done this before. Taken avoided having to answer what happens when you killed someone because that happened long ago. I have to imagine killing someone is a difficult experience, at least for the average person. In this, Kersey treats like a hobby. This movie could easily shift to be more of a fun action romp, but this just ventures too close to political debates to not say more.

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