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|
|Distributed by||Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (USA)|
Mirror Releasing (international)
|Box office||$49.6 million|
Death Wish is a 2018 American vigilante action thriller film directed by Eli Roth and written by Joe Carnahan. It is a remake of the 1974 film of the same name (which originated the Death Wish franchise), 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 Mirror Releasing on March 2, 2018. It was the first film released by MGM through their joint distribution venture with Mirror Releasing (later rebranded as United Artists Releasing). It received generally negative reviews from film critics, but the reception among general audiences was more positive.
Paul Kersey, a Chicago-area Emergency Room surgeon, lives with his wife, Lucy, and daughter, Jordan. When the family visits a restaurant with Paul's brother Frank, a valet named Miguel photographs their home address from their car's navigation software after hearing about a night they plan to be away from home. However, Paul is called to work that night, and Jordan and Lucy are home when the three armed burglars break into their home. Moments later, one of the burglars is scarred from Lucy and Jordan's efforts to fight back in defense of their lives and home. The invading criminals ultimately shoot Lucy to death, and Jordan is seriously wounded and subsequently comatose from their attempted murder of her.
Paul becomes frustrated with the lack of police progress on the case, led by Detectives Kevin Raines and Leonore Jackson. After seeing two men harassing a woman, Paul tries to intervene but is kicked and punched to the ground by the two assailants. He visits a gun store, but there is a long mandatory waiting period to legally purchase a firearm. When a gang member is brought to the hospital and his Glock 17 falls off the gurney, Paul takes it and practices shooting. He uses the gun to stop a carjacking, a video of which goes viral. During the effort, he cuts his left hand due to improperly handling the pistol.
Continuing his efforts as a vigilante, Paul decides to kill a drug dealer calling himself "the Ice Cream Man" after a young boy comes to the hospital with a gunshot wound in his leg. Paul calmly walks up to the pistol-holding drug dealer, referring to himself as "his last customer," and shoots him. News, TV, and radio reports consistently demonstrate mixed feelings of support and condemnation of Paul's developing war against violent criminals.
At the hospital, Paul recognizes a critically injured Miguel, wearing Paul's watch stolen during the attack on his family. Miguel dies and Paul takes his phone, leading him to a liquor store that fences stolen goods. The owner, Ponytail, recognizes Paul and messages one of the burglars, Fish, before Paul demands his family's belongings back at gunpoint. Fish arrives and accidentally kills Ponytail; Fish claims the burglary was done by a mechanic named Joe before a bowling ball falls onto Fish's head. Shocked from the ball's impact, Fish falls onto Paul and is shot by his own weapon.
The detectives visit Paul with his stolen college ring, recovered at the liquor store. Assured that the ring's discovery will lead police to the perpetrators, Paul destroys their phones to cover his tracks. Finding Joe at his auto body shop (and recognizing his facial scars from the night of the burglary), Paul interrogates him for information, cutting his sciatic nerve with a scalpel and pouring brake fluid into the wound. Joe divulges that the third burglar Knox murdered Lucy, and Paul releases the jack holding a 1970 Chevrolet Monte Carlo above Joe. The car subsequently falls onto Joe's head.
Knox calls Paul, arranging to meet in a nightclub bathroom, where they wound each other. Paul gets away while Knox arrives at the hospital, posing as a bystander and giving the detectives a description of Paul. Arriving home, Paul is confronted by Frank, who was questioned by the detectives (looking for a lefty - they see him batting left-handed at a batting cage) and realized Paul is taking his revenge. During the intervention, the hospital calls to tell Paul that Jordan has regained consciousness. Frank tells Paul that "it's over," and that he will not go after Knox.
A week later, Paul leaves the hospital with Jordan and encounters Knox in the elevator. Paul returns to the gun store to legally purchase weapons. Days later, Knox and two accomplices invade and attack Paul's home at night. Paul glimpses a man running across the lawn and hides Jordan, who calls the police. After killing the invading accomplices, Paul is ambushed and shot in the basement by Knox. Facing Knox's gun and knowing both he and Jordan will be killed, Paul retrieves an M4 carbine rifle from a hidden compartment under a coffee table and shoots Knox dead. The police arrive and Raines accepts Paul's story, subtly suggesting Paul end his vigilantism.
- Bruce Willis as Dr. Paul Kersey, a trauma surgeon who turns into vigilante.
- Vincent D'Onofrio as Frank Kersey, Paul's brother.
- Elisabeth Shue as Lucy Kersey, Paul's wife
- Dean Norris as Detective Kevin Raines
- Beau Knapp as Knox, a head of burglars who robbed Paul's house and shot his wife and daughter.
- Kimberly Elise as Detective Leonore Jackson
- Stephanie Janusauskas as Sophie
- Camila Morrone as Jordan Kersey, Paul and Lucy's daughter.
- Jack Kesy as Tate 'The Fish' Karp, one of burglars who robbed Paul's house and attacked his family.
- Ronnie Gene Blevins as Joe Gannon, one of burglars who robbed Paul's house and attacked his family.
- Len Cariou as Ben, Paul's father-in-law.
- Kirby Bliss Blanton as Bethany
- Wendy Crewson as Dr. Jill Klavens
- Mike Epps as Dr. Chris Salgado, Paul's coworker.
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 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, 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 Mirror Releasing would distribute the film on behalf of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and release it on November 22, 2017. However, in October 2017, it was announced it was being delayed until March 2, 2018 and that MGM would handle the film's distribution in the United States, with Annapurna Pictures handling 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 Blu-ray 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 aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 18% based on 155 reviews and an average rating of 3.88/10. 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." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 31 out of 100, based on 32 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 alongside the positive portrayal of American gun culture. Jeannette Catsoulis of The New York Times called the film "imbecilic", and criticized 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 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 called it "way better than all the Death Wish sequels" and "easily the second best Death Wish movie ever made, and not a distant second."
39th Golden Raspberry Awards (February 23, 2019)
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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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