Death Wish (2018 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Eli Roth|
|Produced by||Roger Birnbaum|
|Screenplay by||Joe Carnahan|
|Music by||Ludwig Göransson|
|Edited by||Mark Goldblatt|
|Box office||$48.6 million|
Death Wish is a 2018 American vigilante action thriller film directed by Eli Roth and written by Joe Carnahan. It is the sixth installment of the Death Wish series and a remake of the 1974 film of the same name starring Charles Bronson, based on Brian Garfield's 1972 novel. The film stars Bruce Willis as Paul Kersey, a Chicago doctor who sets out to get revenge on the men who attacked his family. Vincent D'Onofrio, Elisabeth Shue, Dean Norris, and Kimberly Elise also star.
The film was released in the United States by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and in international markets by Annapurna Pictures on March 2, 2018. It received generally negative reviews, with criticism aimed at it for not adding anything new to previous installments.
Paul Kersey, who lives with his wife Lucy and college-bound daughter Jordan, works as a trauma surgeon at a Chicago hospital. After having lunch at a restaurant, Paul gives the keys to his car to a valet, Miguel, who secretly takes a picture of their home address from the car's navigation software after overhearing when they will all be out one night. Later, while Paul is working late at the hospital, three masked men invade the Kersey's home. Jordan and Lucy return home and are both shot and Paul learns at the hospital that Lucy died and Jordan fell into a coma.
Police Detective Kevin Raines is tasked with the case, but Paul soon becomes frustrated with the lack of progress in the investigation. One night, Paul comes across two thugs harassing a woman and tries to intervene but gets beaten. Paul then visits a gun store, but when he sees he's being videotaped, he decides to leave without purchasing anything. When an injured gang member is brought in to the hospital and his Glock 17 falls off the gurney, Paul steals the gun and then uses online videos to learn how to maintain and use it. Eventually, Paul uses it to stop a carjacking, a video of which goes viral; Paul is dubbed Chicago's "Grim Reaper". His reputation as the "Grim Reaper" soars even higher after he kills a drug dealer known as "The Ice Cream Man". When an unconscious Miguel is hospitalized, Paul recognizes his stolen watch around his wrist. After Miguel dies, Paul takes Miguel's phone and discovers a photograph and a text on it suggesting that a liquor store is where the thieves bring and re-sell their stolen goods.
Paul visits the liquor store, but the owner, Ponytail, realizes who he is, secretly messages an accomplice for backup and reaches for a gun. Paul stabs him with a dart and demands the goods stolen from his house. Ponytail's accomplice, Fish, arrives and accidentally kills Ponytail. After shooting Fish, Paul learns from him that Lucy's killer is an auto body shop worker named Joe. Fish kicks Paul and gains the upper hand, but is stunned by a falling bowling ball, allowing Paul to kill him. At the auto body shop, Paul ambushes Joe while he is working under a car. He tortures Joe for information by cutting his sciatic nerve with a scalpel and pouring brake fluid into the wound. Joe divulges that their leader, Knox, shot Lucy. Paul then removes the jack holding the car up, causing it to crush Joe's head.
Paul receives a phone call from Knox, telling him to meet him in a bathroom at a nightclub. When he arrives, Paul calls the number back and hears it ringing in one of the stalls. He shoots through the stall door, only to find that it was a ruse. Knox opens fire from the other end of the bathroom and the two engage in a shootout, injuring both before both escape. After going home and encountering his brother, Frank, Paul is informed from the hospital that Jordan has regained consciousness. A week later, as Paul brings Jordan home from the hospital, Knox talks to both of them in the hospital elevator: Jordan does not recognize Knox, but Knox tells Paul he'll see him around. Paul returns to the gun store to legally purchase weapons to legally defend his remaining family.
Sometime later, Knox and two other thugs prepare to invade Paul's home at night. Paul glimpses a man running across his lawn and hides Jordan in a closet under the stairs, telling her to call the police. After killing the two thugs in the upstairs bedroom, Paul heads into the basement, where he suspects Knox is located. There, Knox emerges from the darkness, shoots Paul in the shoulder and threatens to burn Jordan alive. When Knox is distracted by Jordan yelling out her father's name, Paul retrieves a fully automatic M4 carbine assault rifle from a hidden compartment under a coffee table and shoots Knox dead. When the police arrive, Detective Raines suspects that Paul is the "Grim Reaper", but pretends to buy his story because he's satisfied that justice was served and because Paul subtly informs him that his "Grim Reaper" days are over.
- Bruce Willis as Dr. Paul Kersey, Jordan’s father, Lucy’s husband and Frank’s brother, a Chicago-based doctor turned vigilante
- Vincent D'Onofrio as Frank Kersey, Paul Kersey’s brother and Jordan’s uncle
- Dean Norris as Detective Kevin Raines, the main detective in charge of Lucy's murder investigation and Detective Leonore Jackson’s partner
- Kimberly Elise as Detective Leonore Jackson, partner to Detective Kevin Raines and one of the detectives leading the investigation of Lucy's murder investigation.
- Mike Epps as Dr. Chris Salgado, a playboy doctor and close friend of Paul Kersey
- Elisabeth Shue as Lucy Rose Kersey, the wife of Paul Kersey and Jordan’s mother
- Camila Morrone as Jordan Kersey, the daughter of Paul and Lucy, Frank’s niece and Ben’s granddaughter
- Ronnie Gene Blevins as Joe, a mechanic and Knox's partner-in-crime
- Beau Knapp as Knox, the criminal in charge of Joe and Fish
- Jack Kesy as Tate "Fish" Karp, Knox's partner-in-crime
- Wendy Crewson as Dr. Jill Klavens, a psychiatrist
- Kirby Bliss Blanton as Bethany, the spokesperson of the gun shop Kersey visits.
- Len Cariou as Ben Kersey, Frank, Paul and Lucy's father and Jordan’s grandfather
- Luis Oliva as Miguel
- Troy Kivisto as a FBI Agent
Development of the film began in 2006, when Sylvester Stallone announced that he would be directing and starring in a remake of Death Wish (1974). Stallone told Ain't It Cool News, "Instead of the Charles Bronson character being an architect, my version would have him as a very good cop who had incredible success without ever using his gun. So when the attack on his family happens, he's really thrown into a moral dilemma in proceeding to carry out his revenge." He later told the publication that he was no longer involved. In a 2009 interview with MTV, though, Stallone stated that he was again considering the project.
In late January 2012, The Hollywood Reporter confirmed that a remake would be written and directed by Joe Carnahan. The film was originally set to star Liam Neeson and Frank Grillo. Carnahan, however, left the project in February 2013 due to creative differences, but received sole writing credit for the completed film. He was replaced as director with Gerardo Naranjo, who was interested in casting Benicio Del Toro in the lead role; this version also never came to fruition.
In March 2016, Paramount Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer announced that Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado would direct with Bruce Willis starring. Willis was chosen from a shortlist which included Russell Crowe, Matt Damon, Will Smith, and Brad Pitt. In May, Keshales and Papushado quit the project after MGM declined to allow them to rewrite Joe Carnahan's original script, which had been approved by Willis. In June, Eli Roth signed on to direct, with the script being rewritten by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski. On August 25, 2016, Vincent D'Onofrio was cast alongside Bruce Willis to play Paul Kersey's brother, Breaking Bad actor Dean Norris also joined Willis in the film. On October 7, 2016, Kimberly Elise and Camila Morrone were cast in the film to play Detective Jackson and Jordan Kersey. Later on October 17, 2016, Ronnie Gene Blevins was cast in the film.
In June 2017, it was announced Annapurna Pictures would distribute the film on behalf of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and release it on November 22, 2017. However in October of 2017, it was announced it was being delayed until March 2, 2018 and that Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer would handle the film's distribution in the United States, while Annapurna Pictures handle its international distribution. It was speculated the delay was due in-part to the mass shooting in Las Vegas several days prior. Death Wish was released theatrically in the United Kingdom on April 6 by Vertigo Releasing. It became available on DVD and BluRay on June 5, 2018.
As of July 5, 2018, Death Wish has grossed $34 million in the United States and Canada, and $14.5 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $48.5 million, against a production budget of $30 million.
In the United States and Canada, Death Wish was released alongside Red Sparrow, and was projected to gross $10–20 million from 2,847 theaters in its opening weekend. It made $4.2 million on its first day (including $650,000 from Thursday night previews) and $13 million in its opening weekend, finishing third behind Black Panther ($66.7 million in its third week) and Red Sparrow ($17 million). 55% of its audience was male, while 89% was over the age of 25. It dropped 49% to $6.6 million in its second weekend, finishing at 7th.
— Eli Roth on the reception of Death Wish
On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 18% based on 131 reviews by professional critics, and an average rating of 3.9/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Death Wish is little more than a rote retelling that lacks the grit and conviction of the original — and also suffers from spectacularly bad timing." The film's audience score, based on 7,288 user ratings, stands at 75%, with an average rating of 4 out of 5 stars.  On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 32 out of 100, based on 30 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale.
The Chicago Sun-Times's Richard Roeper gave the film 2 out of 4 stars, writing, "Even with the social commentary, Death Wish isn’t trying to be some intense, gritty, ripped-from-the-headlines docudrama... A number of gruesome scenes are staged like something out of one of those Final Destination movies, with a bowling ball, a dart, a wrench and other conveniently handy items used as weapons of singular destruction. It’s essentially revenge porn." Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune gave the film 1 out of 4 stars and said, "For a while, director Roth plays this stuff relatively straight, and Willis periodically reminds us he can act (the grieving Kersey cries a fair bit here). The script contains a reference to AR-15 rifles; by the end, Willis goes full Willis when his adversaries return to the sanctity of the family home."
Many critics noted the timing of the film's release, coming less than three weeks after the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida. Jeannette Catsoulis of The New York Times called the film "imbecilic", and criticized the film for its jokey tone and "morally unconflicted" approach to its subject matter. Similarly, The Guardian's Amy Nicholson criticized the film for "[flatlining] the politics and [saturating] the pathos", and for insulting both sides of the gun control argument. The Hollywood Reporter's John DeFore noted that the film does not attempt to "use genre metaphors to address real national debates", making the original film "look philosophical by comparison", and he also noted the improbable and contrived nature of Kersey's mission. Writing for the Los Angeles Times, Justin Chang called the film "a slick, straightforward revenge thriller as well as a sham provocation, pandering shamelessly to the viewer's bloodlust while trying to pass as self-aware satire". Chang compared the film unfavorably to the 2007 Death Sentence, citing the lack of consequences that Kersey faces.
Some reviewers stood in defense of the film. Peter Howell of the Toronto Star stated that "Roth and Carnahan do an OK job updating Death Wish", and that the film accurately depicts the "casual way that Americans acquire and use guns". He felt, though, that Liam Neeson would have been a better choice for the lead role. Matthew Rozsa of Salon agreed that the film's release was indeed timed poorly, but argued that "mass shootings have been ubiquitous for so long that I doubt there ever would have been an appropriate release date for a vigilante fantasy. ... It exists everywhere in our culture, from movies and video games to the right-wing talking points that regularly thwart gun control legislation." Rosza considers Death Wish his guilty pleasure, recommending it as a "success" as well as "a competent popcorn muncher that moves at a brisk pace, is about as engaging as your average Law and Order episode and contains an appropriately glowering (if somewhat bored looking) Bruce Willis." The San Francisco Chronicle's Mick Lasalle summed up his review by calling it "way better than all the “Death Wish” sequels" and "easily the second best “Death Wish” movie ever made, and not a distant second."
Death Wish Sequel
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Upon listening to the talkback responses on AICN, many who turned their nose at the idea of a remake, Stallone tells the site today that he will NOT be doing the movie. Yep, he listened to the fans!
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