Death Wish (2018) Recap

Jamie

When Dr. Paul Kersey’s wife is killed and daughter seriously injured in a botched robbery he becomes obsessed by the idea of getting justice in a world filled with injustice. He buys all kinds of guns and starts killing people. Will the police be able to stop this madman before it’s too late?… wait, that’s not what this is about!?! Find out in… Death Wish.

How?! Dr. Paul Kersey has the perfect life, the perfect daughter, the perfect wife, and the perfect deadbeat red herring of a brother. They are all having a perfect time not fighting or killing people until one day a botched robbery leaves his wife dead and daughter in a coma. With his sense of justice broken, Paul gets a gun by illicit means and begins to practice using it. One day he ventures into a bad part of town and upon witnessing a crime in progress proceeds to murder a couple of people. We are meant to wonder whether these people perhaps deserved to be murdered by an armed vigilante (hint: no). Anyway, high off satisfying his bloodlust, Paul continues to look for opportunities to kill people. He eventually finds another target in a drug dealer named the Ice Cream Man and the legend of Paul’s anonymous persona The Grim Reaper grows. Apparently though, Paul was actually just using those people as target practice (cool) because he then stumbles upon a clue that leads him to those responsible for the destruction of his family and that immediately becomes his primary focus. He proceeds to murder all of those people, but is injured in trying to kill the ringleader, Knox. Just at that moment his daughter awakens from her coma so he knows he’ll have to stop killing people without remorse. So he sets up the bad guys for one final climactic battle and blows them all away with legally purchased firearms. The police come and are like “Cool beans, bro.” THE END.

Why?! Paul wants revenge plain and simple. But since he doesn’t know who harmed his family he takes out his vengeance on those that he can find. Unlike the original this is all thrown away when he gets the opportunity to kill those that are responsible for the crime against his family. It’s made pretty clear, pretty quickly that he will stop once he gets his true vengeance.

Who?! Several prominent radio hosts appear in this film to demonstrate “serious arguments” about the merits of a serial killer roaming the streets of Chicago. A real life Dexter is prowling about and Sway and Mancow have to sit there and be like “But like, isn’t this serial killer good because he kills bad dudes or something?” Obviously Mancow was actually defending that idea because he is trash while Sway chose to go uncredited.

What?! Watches come up often in BMT action films, usually to identify someone on surveillance video (Exit Wounds), identify that someone is corrupt (Baywatch), or just to look super rad (The Expendables series). So when Bruce Willis had a couple watches stolen in this film I was like *product placement alert*. I turned out to be wrong though as I didn’t realize that by being in so many action films Bruce Willis has himself turned into a watch fanatic. So those two watches? A Rolex Yacht-Master and Panerai Radiomir straight out of his personal collection. Wowzer.

Where?! ChiTown, baby. Obviously this film uses the tragic gun violence in Chicago to further its pro-vigilante narrative, which is great. On a positive note they go out of their way to give a super exact address for Paul’s house: 20 Dorset Rd., Evanston, IL. A.

When?! We also get an Exact Date Alert for this guy as Paul gets a look at the murder board in the office of the detective working his wife’s case. They spell out explicitly that the murder occured on 26th of April, 2017 at 8:36 PM and so all events are centered around that. A.

This movie is obviously bad and not because it is a poorly made film. Sure the acting is some rough stuff most of the time, but the film itself is polished and adeptly made. It’s bad because it has a terrible message made for terrible people. The original film is actually more shocking in how explicitly it plays with the idea of an upper-class white professional being confronted by a world of crime that has generally not touched him in his life. We get a picture of a broken man whose only pleasure in life is the notoriety he gets from lashing out at the anonymous criminals who wrecked his family because he knows he will never see true justice. You get a sense that he assumes he will die in this pursuit, but when confronted with arrest instead he gives it up. In the new film this is all thrown away. Yes, Bruce Willis is lashing out, but in a much more “white knight” type of way. For example, he finds the Ice Cream Man because a young patient of his has been hurt by him. In the end even this is thrown away for a more cliched storyline where Bruce Willis hunts down those responsible for the original crime. While this is supposed to make it all the more palatable for a viewer it made it worse in my view because it seemed like they were trying to make me be like “yeah, vigilantes are good.” They aren’t. Sorry. Also it’s necessarily built on a pyramid of coincidences that cheapened whatever terrible message they were going for. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Bruce Willis wishes for only one thing. Well … fine, first he wishes for an easy paycheck that requires little to no acting. But a close second comes “death”. He’s got that death wish bro. Let’s get into it!

The Good – It ended up being a little kinder to the main character about his motivations (nearly all of the people he killed had something to do with his wife’s murder) in this current film. It is obvious when they do it, but they also manage to do an okay job with head faking you with the brother, and also explaining how Willis avoids detection by the police.

P’s View on the Preview – What else could you possibly care about with this film? I needed to see how weirdly pro-vigilante it ended up being and whether it was just wink-wink pro-gun, or blatant with catering to that audience. I will never begrudge whatever film tastes people have, and if that is seeing over-the-hill action stars shooting large guns at people then so be it. But that plus vigilante worship was going to be a one way ticket to me disliking this movie. So that’s all I really cared about.

The Bad – The film comes across as far more pro-vigilante than the original. The original you can kind of see he’s a monster who gets off on it. He doesn’t even bother to try and figure out who hurt his family. He kind of just dumps his daughter in a hospital eventually to go blow randos away. In this one he’s killing people he knows hurt his family and the public and police are both kind of rooting for him. It is weird shit. Bruce Willis just sleepwalks through the entire film as one would expect. None of the bad guys have motivations beyond “I want to kill innocent people for money please.” Like … a smash and grab B & E crew would typically just run when people come home, not wait around to get themselves a murder conviction. But whatever.

You Just Got Schooled – Hey a real one. So I did watch the original Death Wish which was … still weird. The background as I understand it is very similar to Dirty Harry. The original concept was meant to condemn a universal evil (vigilantism for Death Wish, cops working outside the rules with Dirty Harry), but ultimately either because of interference or general mismanagement both muddle things enough that audiences were like “these guys are awesome!” In both cases the creators were horrified and wrote a sequel directly condemning the actions. With Magnum Force (Dirty Harry 2) it is pretty explicit: the dirty cops are the bad guys, they are Dirty Harry but without the charm or protagonist shield. I think you have to get it: working outside the rules makes everyone less safe not more. As for Death Wish 2, the book makes it pretty obvious in exactly the same way (the main character has to hunt down a copycat vigilante to stop the madness), but apparently the films just ignore that and eventually Charles Bronson is blowing up gangbangers with bazookas … so lesson not learned. Did I like the original Death Wish? I thought it was interesting, like I thought the original Mechanic was interesting. But I’m not sold on Bronson. He comes across as an old school Seagal basically, you can’t believe they exist in the world without people constantly exclaiming “Who is this weirdo?!” Still excited to watch the rest of the series though.

The BMT – Ehhhh, I love that it has opened the door for the entire Death Wish series. Charles Bronson is one of those old school actors which seems influential in how someone like Steven Seagal eventually shaped his career. But would 2018 Death Wish stand on its own? Only in a gross way. I would have preferred to pair it with Peppermint, but that hadn’t been released to DVD at the time of viewing. Then I would have emphatically gushed about its influences on BMT as the first ever non-series BONUS ever. Instead I will will it from my brain and forget I ever watched it.

Welcome to Earf – A shockingly tough one, I had to remind myself that Bruce Willis was in both Death Wish and A Bonfire of the Vanities with Morgan Freeman, who narrated Conan the Barbarian with Ron Perlman, who starred in In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale with Leelee Sobieski, who was in Here on Earth. Welcome to Earf!

StreetCreditReport.com – It makes lists based on critic score at least. And it does get some major cred from the mere fact that is was notoriously poorly timed, as noted here. And a film like this could have passed under the radar is not for that I think. But because of the terrible timing it managed to get number five on Kermode’s midseason list which is pretty impressive. It’s got the cred we love to see.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

 

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