‘Death Wish’: Slick but flighty popcorn entertainer (IANS Review, Rating: **1/2)

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Film: “Death Wish”; Director: Eli Roth; Cast: Bruce Willis, Vincent D’Onofrio, Elisabeth Shue, Camila Morrone, Dean Norris, Kimberly Elise, Len Cariou, Jack Kesy, Ronnie Gene Blevins, Kirby Bliss Blanton, Ian Matthews; Rating: **1/2

A revenge thriller set in Chicago, Director Eli Roth’s ‘Death Wish’ is a popcorn entertainer, rehashed from a 1974-release and Director Michael Winner’s similarly titled film starring Charles Bronson.

While on the surface it seems a slick remake with the context in place, the telling does seem a bit out of sync with the times. The most disturbing moment in the original film was a hideous sexual violence committed against Bronson’s daughter, but in this movie, on the fateful night, a gang of masked burglars sneak into Doctor Paul Kersey’s house and the violence that followed seemed staged in a way that is viciously effective but rather generic.

There were two gunshots — his wife Lucy is killed and daughter Jordan left in coma.

Paul gets frustrated with the police response. After realising that he can’t get justice through the system and with his father-in-law inciting him with “people keep relying on the police to keep them safe. That’s the problem’, he decides he has to get justice himself.

He turns into a vigilante and goes on a killing spree, eliminating the bad guys in the city and invariably delivers justice to himself and his family.

The writing is lazy, right from the first scene — which gives us an insight to the crime rate in the city — to the media circus that surrounds the emergence of the mysterious urban vigilante and terming him as “Grim Reaper”, to the way the doctor executes his mission with a hood, gun et al.

Nothing is planned. Luck and destiny play a big role, making the entire process seem frothy and frivolous.

There are quite a few action sequences with include — shootouts, fisticuffs and gore, but unfortunately they all seem like videogame stuff.

For a thriller, Bruce Willis seems jaded. But nevertheless he seems perfect to play his part as Doctor Paul Kersey, the soft-spoken, tender and affectionate father who will tolerate no-nonsense from trouble makers. His transition from a civilized healer to an anonymous brutal street killer is mechanical. It does not evoke any emotional sympathy or revulsion.

He is aptly supported by Elisabeth Shue as his wife Lucy, Camila Morrone as his daughter Jordan, Vincent D’Onofrio as his brother Frank Kersey, Dean Norris as Detective Raines, Kimberly Elise as Detective Jackson. They are all earnest.

On the technical front, the film is well-mounted but nothing deserves a special mention. And overall, the film is lacklustre fare.



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