When I heard Eli Roth was doing a remake of the 1974 classic “Death Wish” with Bruce Willis I said to myself, “now this is something I can get behind.” I mean is there no more perfect marriage then the guy behind “The Green Inferno”, the writer of “Narc”, and John McClane himself? Well on paper that’s a great team to make a movie like this, but championships aren’t won on paper.
Paul Kersey (Bruce Willis) pretty much has the perfect life. He is a successful trauma surgeon with a beautiful wife named Lucy (Elizabeth Shue) and a daughter in Jordan (Camila Morrone) who is about to start attending NYU. That perfect life though is shattered when their house is broken into and his family attacked. Devastated he turns to the police to catch whoever did this, but then when he sees no movement he starts to think he should just do it himself. The problem is other than knowing what a bullet does to the body Kersey knows little else. That is nothing a trip to the gun store can’t correct where he learns that bullets can be traced back to a gun. Later on while trying to save a patient a gun drops out and Kersey decides to keep it himself. Not much soon after he is becoming a marksman and starts taking justice in his own hands as he tries to find the men who destroyed his family.
As I said before this lineup on paper had to make a good remake, but boy was I wrong. Sure there is some good violence with lots of gun fights, but at an hour and forty seven minutes, it’s just too long. Roth could have used a better editor on this one, as there are parts that just don’t fit in, with one of the worst ideas adding news clips and morning radio to move the story forward. It is because of that the film doesn’t have a smooth feeling to it and for the most part often feels choppy. Taking that out though doesn’t solve all the problems as Willis feels like he is just going through the motions of another action movie, which is a shame because if I was casting this movie he would be my first choice as well. There is a good film in there somewhere and I say that even with Willis’s performance. The best compliment I can give this film is that it doesn’t insult the original and while I hoped I could love this more, it’s still only an empty wish.