Death Wish (2018)
Directed by Eli Roth
Runtime 107 minutes
Metro-Goldwyn Mayer Pictures
Naturally the newest incarnation (2018) is loosely based on the Brian Garfield book as the 1974 (original) Deathwish starring Charles Bronson. A film that some might argue set the standard early on for the vigilante revenge genre (In America anyhow, as it had already existed in Japan for many years previous). This same scene exploded turning much darker, with an emphasis (from some directors) veering wildly towards vengeance (“Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” or something along the very same lines) with such notable entries as I Spit on your Grave (aka Day of the Woman), Thriller; They Call Her One Eye and Wes Cravens’ The Last House on the Left, among others a few even showcasing the creepy maestro himself – David Hess.
There are of course a few differences in each Deathwish I can mention without fear of spoiling the plot (I don’t roll like that!). In the original Paul Kersey (obviously played by Charles Bronson) was an architect whereas in the newer ‘adaption’ Bruce Willis’ character is an emergency room doctor/surgeon. I personally believe this to be one of the films finer touches. In displaying his profession, caring nature and utter professionalism his character is developed some becoming more relatable. Another difference comes in the films early scenes. In the original Kersey’s daughter gets savagely raped and beaten whereas in the newer version she merely (as if this isn’t such a bad thing!?) gets shot resulting from her bungled attempts at escaping the clutches of the home invaders. Among numerous other elements that Eli Roth preferred not to include are a young Jeff Goldblum (in one of his earliest, if not his first, celluloid appearance) yelling aloud the word CUNT! and also an uncredited Denzel Washington.
With that, somewhat useless pieces of trivia, out of the way, the 2018 version is set in modern day Chicago. A city that’s famous for many things, chief among them its homicide rate which at a twenty year high is, it would appear, in a state of celebration claiming forty-eight lives in one weekend in the process.
Much like in the original Dct. Kersey, played by Bruce Willis, loses his wife resulting from a botched house invasion. His Daughter is left in a coma.
“People rely on the police to keep them safe. That’s the problem!” Leaving the funeral Bruces Father in-law utters a sentence that makes the wheels in his head spin at an alarmingly rate. Frustrated and broken Bruce turns to the detectives assigned to his case (one ironically enough portrayed by a drug kingpin from the recent hit series Claws) for help. It’s suggested that he not waste his money hiring a PI, especially in relation to a homicide case, even though it sounds and feels like a great idea and the right thing to do.
Returning home Doctor Kersey spys a pair of thugs and intervenes in hopes to help their prey as he was unable to help his family in the same situation. The situation soon turns sour and he resigns himself to the fact that he needs to be better prepared and ‘equiped’ as criminals usually tend to live up to their namesake/stereotype.
The film progresses and the wheels in Dct. Kersey’s head continue to spin, he’s pissed and who wouldn’t be?
An interesting montage split screen occurs part way through the movie that brilliantly balances the tools used in his profession (saving lives) with readying himself for defence/retribution with a new set of tools entirely, some that he is all too unfamiliar with after all this isn’t the same Bruce from the Die Hard (not the Venom track) franchise, “Yippee Kiya Motherfucer!” or even anything close to his character in The Fifth Element (“Multiii-pas?”). And all this set against Back in Black by AC/DC which many have taken grievance with. Although I don’t agree one hundred percent with their fanaticism I believe a better choice of track could have been made. Perhaps another not so obvious. Wrong one to Fuck With by Dying Fetus perhaps?
Taking to the dimly lit streets the Doctor attempts to locate those (in one way or another) who’ve taken from him understandably an eye for an eye baby. And soon finds himself ensnared in some dubious ‘White Knight’ antics. Even chasing down a nefarious ice cream man who preys on innocent kids (shooting one in the leg).
Following footage that goes viral public opinion is that the doctor (though noone knows his real identity) is either a guardian angel or a Grim Reaper on account of his callous/cold nature and depending of course on the attitude of the person being asked.
The Detectives remain baffled and reside themselves to “looking for a white needle in a haystack”.
When Deathwish really hits its stride is when the doctor fully understands how to proceed and does so with blazimg vemgeance after recognizing both an expensive item of finery and the person wearing it.
Another of the prominent criminals (known as the Fish) also from the series Claws (spoiler alert – the burnt, shot sex slave – son with amnesia) features in a fantastic scene taking place in a bar complete with a cat and mouse scene, albeit with firearms, and a precariously balanced bowling ball.
And he detectives remain still baffled. No great shocker there!
Deathwish isn’t without scenes that reek of the directors handiwork. A grisly scene with the slashing of a siatic nerve and torture techniques learnt at med school harken to years past and many films previous to eastern bloc Europe, thugs and darkened rooms where scary amounts of cash were exchanged in order that one might be able to experience ‘The kill’.
Ironically enough this is also a scene where one might be reminded of another character played by Bruce via the dialogue exchange.
You’re not gonna kill me?
– No…Jack is!
Bruces predicament turns a mite stickier as the remaining invaders again enter the home uninvited towards films end leading to a climax that shows Eli can direct both in the thriller and horror realms applaudably.
Overall, contrary to popular belief (I often tend to traipse down this unbeaten track), Deathwish is an entertaining waste of close to two hours. In true Eli Roth fashion it follows a narrative that’s easy to comprehend and showcases memorable sequences of crimson soaked action (shotguns taking the place of knives) with bone-crunching sound effects in just the right places for maximum effect.
My only qualm is the amount of plugs and time given to Mancow and specific Sirius XM popular talkshows. It’s a small gripe however and doesn’t take away in the slightest from my utter enjoyment of a feature that could well be given the moniker ‘mindless violent entertainment’ (I’ll give my close friend the credit for that).
All that’s left is for me to give my reccommendation, try to go into this film without prejudice and you may well enjoy it more than you thought you might have.
C’mon punk. Make my…
oh shit. I channeled Clint again.
Your slave to the occasion rehash outside of the horror arena.
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