MGM has finally issued its first trailer for Death Wish, their upcoming remake of the classic ’70s Charles Bronson revenge thriller. This new version stars Bruce Willis as a surgeon who avenges the rape of his daughter and the murder of his wife by taking to the hostile streets of Chicago as a vigilante. Eli Roth (Cabin Fever, Hostel) directs, from a script by Joe Carnahan (Narc, The Grey)…
There’s truly a lot to unpack here and I’m not certain that it can all be fully sussed out just yet. Before things became increasingly over-the-top in subsequent sequels, the original Death Wish was a grim and grimy slice of ’70s revenge cinema. It packed a wallop and remains one of the better films in the sub-genre to this day. On paper, this film seems similar. After all, Carnahan is no slouch as a writer and has certainly written dark material before. Roth fits the bill as well, having primarily directed exploitation-tinged genre cinema for the past 14 years. I wouldn’t exactly call him a modern day Michael Winner (the original’s director), but his films happen to have an air of controversy around them.
That’s all on paper, however. Based solely on the trailer above, the film appears to be a dark action comedy. Despite dealing with heavy themes (especially now) like vigilantism and rampant crime (especially in Chicago), this preview is playing it all mostly for laughs and fist-pumping setpieces, all set to an AC/DC song. This tells me one of two things: either the film has taken an utterly popcorn approach to its source material or it is being horribly misrepresented in this piece of marketing. I’m desperately hoping for the latter, because I don’t think the world needs a quip-happy, chuckle-thon of a Death Wish remake. I don’t think some masterpiece of a social commentary-filled revenge picture was in the cards here. A bigger budget exploitation piece seems likelier. That said, it will play a whole lot better if there’s even the tiniest semblance of nuance to the proceedings.
Death Wish is a remake of the 1974 action thriller of the same name, which was based on the novel by Brian Garfield. It is directed by Eli Roth and produced by Roger Birnbaum, from a screenplay by Joe Carnahan. The film stars Bruce Willis as ‘Paul Kersey’, Vincent D’Onofrio as ‘Frank Kersey’, Beau Knapp as ‘Knox’, Dean Norris as ‘Detective Rains’, Kimberly Elise as ‘Detective Jackson’, Mike Epps as ‘Dr. Chris Salgado’, Elisabeth Shue as ‘Lucy Kersey’, Camilla Morrone as ‘Jordan Kersey’, Moe Jeudy-Lamour as ‘Ray Shawn Core’, Ronnie Gene Blevins as ‘Joe’, Kirby Bliss Blanton as ‘Bethany’, Len Cariou as ‘Ben’, and Jack Kesy as ‘The Fish’.
Death Wish arrives in theaters on November 22nd, 2017.
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