I think the problem is Bruce Willis. I love Bruce Willis. He’s a tough guy and a great action star… and I’m not sure that’s what this film really requires. Stay with me on this.
This is an interesting new take on the whole Death Wish series. I’m glad they went with a diffrent profession (doctor instead of an Architect) and that they went with a very up-to-date look. On paper, Willis looks perfect for this role. He’s every bit the action star that Charles Bronson was and he’s about as long in tooth as we remember Bronson being – especially in the late series sequels. But Bronson had a quiet toughness. He could sit in a living room or work on a drawing and be at ease. Bruce Willis oozes tough guy in all his movements. I have a hard time buying those action star fists as the healing hands of a doctor. I have a hard time buying the clumsiness with a gun, or the reluctance to use it.
Don’t get me wrong, when we get into the later confident action sequences, he’s in perfect form. It’s just a haul trying to get him there. I admit I kind of dig the way the hoodie has replaced that knit thermal hat Bronson wore in two.
It’s funny, I would have expected a lot more grit and grain here. Eli Roth is a grindhouse aficionado and I was really expecting an exploitation movie. I suppose that’s a much more difficult proposition in 2018. This is a slickly packaged almost- revenge/action film. We (thankfully) lack the rape and the death of the wife seems less brutal. Roth does manage to stick in some gore though – a few messy set pieces that are more extreme than you would normally find in an action film. I’m grateful for that though I wish we’d see a little more kinetic over-the-top action.
All in all, it’s not a bad film. It’s definitely a remake of the film and feels like it has less than ever to do with the original novel. It’s probably as good as any of the late series sequels and I would hope that it’ll drum up some interest in classic Bronson. Besides, you can’t tell me it isn’t pretty cool to see the nod to the original in the way this ends!