If I’m being straight-up, I’m not a fan of the original Death Wish starring Charles Bronson. It’s not a terrible film by any means, just a strangely lethargic one for a revenge saga. That said, I can certainly appreciate the influence it has had on virtually every film of its kind made since. The appeal of Bronson’s older age and every man demeanor is what also made films like Taken work. By design, it doesn’t need a remake since so many movies essentially remake it anyway, but we’re getting one starring Bruce Willis. However, things have been made a little more interesting by the hiring of Hostel Eli Roth as director.
Eli Roth thus far has been purely a horror filmmaker and a fairly divisive one at that. His gory, arguably exploitative style has made for films that are great fun for midnight movie fans. However, his films have also been torn apart by critics and general audiences for their lack of subtly and sheer brutality. In fact, Roth recently had a pair of films fizz out, The Green Inferno and Knock Knock. This makes this hire a genuinely risky choice, and that is why it is so fascinating.
Initially, it was going to be Joe Carnahan (The Grey, The A-Team) writing and directing this film. While that’s certainly a fitting choice on paper, it also feels a little safe. Safe in the way that a remake of such an iconic movie does not want to feel, especially when it is starring such a typical action movie star as Bruce Willis. No matter what Eli Roth ultimately decides to do with this film, it is now going to stand out. Will he opt to soak the film in blood and guts, creating a more schlocky version of what came before? Or will he perhaps pull back a bit, and let his talent for brutality make the harsh moments pop? Only time will tell, but with Scott Alexander & Larry Karaszewski (American Crime Story) writing the screenplay, I’m starting to come around.