Death Wish

  • 19 May - 25 May, 2018
  • Mohammad Kamran Jawaid
  • Reviews

In Death Wish, a doctor from Chicago is pushed into a secret life of a hood-wearing vigilante when his wife is killed, and his daughter ends up in an ICU by masked robbers. Chances are you may have seen this particular plot unfold a lot in movies; even the title might seem familiar.

Death Wish – the original film series that started in 1974 and ran for 5 movies – first starred Charles Bronson; that film’s ambitions weren’t big or broad in scope (it was also a loose adaption of a novel itself). While the main idea of the plot is still here, this new version is surprisingly well thought-out, calm, progressive and somewhat socially aware. The screenplay is written by Joe Carnahan, whose screen credits as director include The Grey, A-Team, Smokin’ Aces, Narc; the film is directed by Eli Roth, who is mostly known for horror-thrillers Cabin Fever, Hostel, The Green Inferno and Knock Knock.

Both Carnahan and Roth have a cult following in Hollywood and beyond, though their choice of actors in this movie would raise eyebrows. The vigilante doctor is played by Bruce Willis, his dead wife is Elisabeth Shue, and Vincent D’Onofrio is Willis’s down-on-his-luck brother. The casting is spot-on, because this is Willis’s return to the spotlight… well, sort of; the film isn’t doing too well at the box-office, though mark my words, in time the film will have a decent enough cult status. In retrospect, this would be kinda iconic, given the film’s linage.

Carnahan’s smartly paced out script and the cast’s uniformly on-the-meter performance lends Death Wish an aura of credibility. A father’s turn as a back alley punisher of crime, doesn’t sound corny in the film’s context, even though the angle of the robbers attacking his place and their subsequent conflict with him are flimsy.

Despite this, Death Wish is a thoroughly recommended watch, mainly because the tone, structure and the visual ambiance (including the cinematography and production design) hark back to the 90’s era of action films. The familiarity is deliberate (at least to my eye) and one of the core reasons why the movie simply works.