Death Wish
A silhouette of a man walking in a street replaces the "I" in the title "DEATH WISH", with the tagline "HOW FAR WOULD YOU GO TO PROTECT YOUR FAMILY" on top, and the billing block sitting on the bottom of the poster.
Theatrical release poster
Directed byEli Roth
Screenplay byJoe Carnahan
Based on
Produced byRoger Birnbaum
Starring
CinematographyRogier Stoffers
Edited byMark Goldblatt
Music byLudwig Göransson
Production
companies
Distributed by
Release date
  • March 2, 2018 (2018-03-02)
Running time
107 minutes[2]
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$30 million
Box office$49.6 million

Death Wish is a 2018 American vigilante action thriller film that is a remake of the 1974 film of the same name and starring Bruce Willis as Paul Kersey, a Chicago doctor who sets out to get revenge on the men who attacked his family. The film is directed by Eli Roth and written by Joe Carnahan. The film also stars Vincent D'Onofrio, Elisabeth Shue, Dean Norris, and Kimberly Elise.

A remake of the 1974 film was first announced in 2006, with Sylvester Stallone set to direct and star, before dropping out. Carnahan was announced to write and direct after in 2012, but later dropped out, too, although was given sole screenwriting credit despite his script being rewritten numerous times since. Roth joined as director in 2016, with filming taking place in Chicago that same year with director of photography Rogier Stoffers. Mark Goldblatt served as editor in post-production, while the score was composed by Ludwig Göransson.

Death Wish was released in the North America by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and internationally by Annapurna International on March 2, 2018, and underperformed at the box office, only grossing $49.6 million worldwide against a $30 million budget.[3] The film was panned by critics. Many criticized its depiction of gun violence in comparison to then-recent mass shootings, claiming it as spreading "right-wing" and "pro-gun" messages, with Roth denying said claims.

Plot

Trauma surgeon Paul Kersey lives with his wife, Lucy, and daughter, Jordan, in Chicago. When the family visits a restaurant with Paul's brother Frank, Miguel the valet secretly copies their address after hearing that they plan to stay out. Paul is suddenly called to the hospital, though, and Jordan and Lucy return home just as three armed criminals break in, leading to Lucy and Jordan being shot when they try to fight back. Lucy is killed and Jordan survives, but is left in a coma.

Paul becomes frustrated with the lack of police progress on the case, contemplating purchasing a firearm. When a gang member is brought to the hospital and his gun falls out, Paul secretly takes it and practices shooting. He later uses it to stop a carjacking, injuring his left hand in the process. A captured video of the carjacking goes viral, earning Paul the nickname "Grim Reaper". After treating a boy who was attacked for refusing to sell drugs for a dealer calling himself the "Ice Cream Man", Paul guns him down in broad daylight.

News reports consistently demonstrate divided opinions of support and condemnation of Paul's developing war against violent criminals. Later on at Paul's hospital, Paul recognizes a dying Miguel on his operating table wearing a watch stolen from his home. Paul hacks into Miguel's phone, leading him to a liquor store that fences stolen goods. The owner, Ponytail, recognizes Paul and messages another criminal, Fish. Fish sneaks in and accidentally kills Ponytail while trying to shoot Paul.

Fish identifies the second member of the group, Joe, before Paul kills him. The cops visit Paul to discuss the case. Afterwards, he destroys the phones to cover his tracks. Finding Joe at an auto body shop, he tortures him. Joe divulges that the third robber, Knox, murdered Lucy, before Paul kills him.

Knox calls Paul, arranging to meet in a nightclub bathroom, where they exchange fire and wound each other. Paul gets away while Knox goes to the police and gives them a physical description of Paul. Arriving home, Paul is confronted by Frank, who then answers the front door and is questioned by the detectives of his brother's whereabouts. During the intervention, the hospital calls to tell Paul that Jordan has regained consciousness.

A week later, Paul leaves the hospital with Jordan and legally buys weapons to defend his family. As Knox cases his house for an ambush, Paul glimpses a man running across the lawn and orders Jordan to hide and call the police. After killing Knox's men, Paul is shot and wounded by Knox, but manages to pull out a hidden rifle and kills him. The police arrive and accept Paul's story after he hints that he is done with vigilantism.

Months later, Paul drops off Jordan at New York University. Spotting a man stealing a bag from a bellhop, he calls out and points a finger gun at him.

Cast

Production

Development

Development on the film began already back 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 after "creative differences" and became busy with work on other projects.[4][5]

In a 2009 interview with MTV, Stallone stated that he was again considering the project.[6] In late January 2012, The Hollywood Reporter confirmed that a remake would be written and directed by Joe Carnahan.[7] The film was originally set to star Liam Neeson and Frank Grillo. Carnahan too left the project in February 2013 due to "creative differences",[8] but received sole writing credit for the completed film.[9] 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.[8]

Casting

After the completed script lay dormant for 3 years, it was brought back up in March 2016, when Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures (MGM) announced that Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado would direct the film.[10] Willis was chosen for the role of Paul Kersey. Others that were considered for the role were Russell Crowe, Matt Damon, Will Smith, Brad Pitt, Liam Neeson, Kurt Russell, Michael Keaton, Christopher Lambert, Dennis Quaid, Richard Gere, Mel Gibson, Harrison Ford, Don Johnson, Peter Weller, Ron Perlman, Stephen Lang, Michael Biehn, Tommy Lee Jones, Jeff Bridges and Arnold Schwarzenegger.[11]

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.[12] In June, Eli Roth signed on to direct, with the script being rewritten by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski.[13] On August 25, 2016, Vincent D'Onofrio was cast alongside Willis to play Paul Kersey's brother, while Dean Norris also joined the film.[14] On October 7, 2016, Kimberly Elise and Camila Morrone were cast in the film to play Detective Jackson and Jordan Kersey.[15] Later on October 17, 2016, Ronnie Gene Blevins was cast in the film.[16]

Filming

Principal photography began in September 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.[17] Later in October 2016, it began filming in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.[18] During filming, Roth had spent a lot of time with multiple detectives in Chicago to get some important details about police stations correct.[citation needed]

Release

In June 2017, it was announced Annapurna Pictures would distribute the film on behalf of MGM and release it on November 22, 2017.[19] 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 handling its international distribution.[a] It was speculated the delay was due in-part to the mass shooting in Las Vegas several days prior.[22]

Reception

Box office

Death Wish 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.[2][23]

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.[24] 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.[25] It dropped 49% to $6.6 million in its second weekend, finishing at 7th.[26]

Critical response

I wanted to really make it about family, and stick to the central issue of what would you do if this happened to your family. The movie for me really is about family and protecting your family and what do you do when you can't get justice for your family? It's not pro-gun. What I really try to do more than anything is show it how it really is, and leave it for the audience to decide.

—Eli Roth on the reception of Death Wish[27]

The film was widely panned by critics. On review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 18% based on 163 reviews and an average rating of 4.1/10. 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."[28] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 31 out of 100, based on 32 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".[29] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale.[25]

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."[30] 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."[22]

Many critics noted the timing of the film's release, coming less than three weeks after the Parkland high school shooting in Parkland, Florida,[31] alongside the positive portrayal of American gun culture.[32] Jeannette Catsoulis of The New York Times called the film "imbecilic", and criticized its jokey tone and "morally unconflicted" approach to its subject matter.[33] 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.[34]

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.[35] 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 Death Sentence (2007),[b] citing the lack of consequences that Kersey faces.[36]

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.[37] 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." Rozsa 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."[31] 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."[38]

Accolades

39th Golden Raspberry Awards (February 23, 2019)

Notes

  1. ^ It was the first film released by MGM through their joint distribution venture with Annapurna (later rebranded as United Artists Releasing); this also makes it the first film distributed by MGM since Hot Tub Time Machine (2010), as well as the first film to be exclusively credited to MGM since The Other End of the Line (2008), as their following films were either distribution efforts for other companies, were distributed by other major film companies, or were credited to both MGM and United Artists.[20][21]
  2. ^ Death Sentence is a loose adaptation of the novel of the same name by Garfield; while the book is a sequel to its predecessor Death Wish, the adaptation is unrelated to the previous Death Wish films and is a standalone feature.

References

  1. ^ a b "Filmed in Quebec". The Quebec Film and Television Council. Retrieved March 31, 2018.
  2. ^ a b "Death Wish (2018) - Financial Information". The Numbers. Retrieved July 8, 2018.
  3. ^ "2018's Biggest Box Office Bombs, From 'Gotti' to 'Solo'". The Wrap. December 12, 2018. Retrieved July 21, 2022.
  4. ^ Morris, Clint (June 8, 2008). "Stallone in Death Wish remake? Updated!". Moviehole. Archived from the original on July 3, 2007. Retrieved December 20, 2006. 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!
  5. ^ Staff and agencies (November 5, 2007). "Stallone tapped for Death Wish remake". The Guardian. Guardian News and Media. Retrieved November 5, 2007.
  6. ^ Rosenberg, Adam (October 2, 2009). "Sylvester Stallone Speaks on a 'Death Wish' Remake and Edgar Allen Poe". MTV News. MTV. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
  7. ^ Gilchrist, Todd (January 31, 2012). "'The Grey' Director Joe Carnahan to Remake 'Death Wish'". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved October 5, 2012.
  8. ^ a b Bentancor, Nestor (May 21, 2013). "Exclusive Benicio Del Toro Rejected to Star in Death Wish Remake 1". Desde Hollywood. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
  9. ^ Sprague, Mike (February 20, 2018). "Bruce is Back in Bitchin' New Retro Poster for Eli Roth's Death Wish Remake". Dread Central. Dread Central Media. Retrieved February 26, 2018.
  10. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (March 4, 2016). "'Death Wish' Revamp With Bruce Willis To Be Helmed By 'Big Bad Wolves' Directors Aharon Keshales & Navot Papushado". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media.
  11. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (May 4, 2016). "'Big Bad Wolves' Helmers Aharon Keshales & Navot Papushado Exit Bruce Willis 'Death Wish' Remake". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
  12. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (May 4, 2016). "'Big Bad Wolves' Helmers Aharon Keshales & Navot Papushado Exit Bruce Willis 'Death Wish' Remake". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
  13. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (June 20, 2016). "Eli Roth To Direct Bruce Willis In 'Death Wish' Remake". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved June 20, 2016.
  14. ^ Busch, Anita; Fleming, Mike Jr. (August 25, 2016). "Vincent D'Onofrio Joins Bruce Willis In Eli Roth-Helmed 'Death Wish'". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media.
  15. ^ N'Duka, Amanda (October 7, 2016). "Eli Roth's 'Death Wish' Adds Kimberly Elise and Camilla Morrone". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved October 9, 2016.
  16. ^ N'Duka, Amanda (October 18, 2016). "Thriller 'D.O.A. Blood River' Sets Cast; Ronnie Gene Blevins Joins 'Death Wish'". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved October 18, 2016.
  17. ^ Metz, Nina (September 26, 2016). "Bruce Willis shooting 'Death Wish' remake in Chicago this week". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved October 9, 2016.
  18. ^ Phillips, Michael (March 1, 2018). "'Death Wish' review: Bruce Willis makes Chicago bleed all over the place". Chicago Tribune.
  19. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (June 8, 2017). "Annapurna To Release MGM's 'Death Wish' Over Thanksgiving; Sets October Date For 'Professor Marston & The Wonder Women'". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved June 8, 2017.
  20. ^ McNary, Dave (October 31, 2017). "MGM, Annapurna Form U.S. Distribution Partnership". Variety. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  21. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (October 5, 2017). "Eli Roth 'Death Wish' Reboot Springs To March". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved October 7, 2017.
  22. ^ a b Philips, Michael (March 1, 2018). "'Death Wish': Bruce Willis makes Chicago bleed all over the place". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved March 1, 2018.
  23. ^ "Death Wish (2018)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved October 30, 2019.
  24. ^ McNary, Dave (February 20, 2018). "Will 'Black Panther' See One of the Best Second Weekends Ever?". Variety. Penske Business Media. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
  25. ^ a b D'Alessandro, Anthony (March 4, 2018). "'Black Panther' Busts Past Half Billion; 'Red Sparrow' Flies Low With $17M – Sunday AM B.O. Update". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved March 4, 2018.
  26. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (March 11, 2018). "'Black Panther' Rules 4th Frame With $41M+; 'A Wrinkle In Time' At $33M+: A Diversity & Disney Dominant Weekend". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved March 16, 2018.
  27. ^ Schwartz, Dana (March 5, 2018). "Death Wish director Eli Roth responds to critics of controversial remake". Entertainment Weekly. Time. Retrieved March 6, 2018.
  28. ^ "Death Wish (2018)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved October 10, 2021.
  29. ^ "Death Wish Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved March 16, 2018.
  30. ^ Roeper, Richard (March 1, 2018). "Little seems real — not Chicago, not bloodshed — in Bruce Willis' 'Death Wish'". Chicago Sun Times. Retrieved March 1, 2018.
  31. ^ a b Rosza, Matthew (March 3, 2018). "Is the "Death Wish" remake as disgustingly right-wing as the original series?". Salon. Salon Media Group. Retrieved March 3, 2018.
  32. ^ 'If the NRA made film': Bruce Willis's Death Wish remake is a badly timed misfire, say US critics
  33. ^ Catsoulis, Jeannette (March 1, 2018). "Review: Cleaning Up Chicago in 'Death Wish'". The New York Times. Retrieved March 1, 2018.
  34. ^ Nicholson, Amy (March 1, 2018). "Death Wish review – Bruce Willis stacks up corpses in gutless remake". The Guardian. Retrieved March 1, 2018.
  35. ^ DeFore, John (March 1, 2018). "'Death Wish': Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 1, 2018.
  36. ^ Chang, Justin (March 1, 2018). "Bruce Willis takes aim and misfires in an imbecilic 'Death Wish' remake". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 2, 2018.
  37. ^ Howell, Peter (March 1, 2018). "Death Wish decent, despite reloading with Bruce Willis". Toronto Star. Retrieved March 1, 2018.
  38. ^ Lasalle, Mick (March 1, 2018). "'Death Wish' updated with more guns, cell phones and revenge". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved April 17, 2018.
  39. ^ 39th Razzie Nominations!. YouTube: Razzie Channel.