I love Bruce Willis. Like a Denzel Washington movie, Bruce is a must-see. Most theater-goers feel that way, as is evident by the 85% Audience Score for Death Wish. Having said that, his acting performance in this flick was equal to David Caruso in CSI Miami. Yes, that bad. The timing of this movie, on the heels of the Parkland School shooting, is unfortunate. But my guess is that there was plenty of time to pull it, but the producers decided not to do so. This movie has been called politically incorrect. With revenge and vigilantism as its themes, the original was not politically correct either, but it resonated with the public through numerous sequels. This version just doesn’t cut it, the latter part feeling like a ripoff of Taken.
Dr. Kersey is an ER physician in Chicago, the movie continually reminding the viewers of the number of homicides in the city. Unexpectedly, he is called into work on his birthday, and his wife and daughter remain home. Armed burglars kill his wife, and his daughter is left in a coma. His father-in-law reminds Kersey that the police only arrive after the crime has been committed, that you have to protect yourself. Visiting a gun shop, and finding a gun left in the ER sends Kersey on a path to help others and find his wife’s killer. The media will refer to him as The Grim Reaper.
In addition to Bruce Willis, Vincent D’Onofrio appears as Kersey’s ne’er-do-well brother. His acting is about on par with Vin Diesel. Yes, that bad. Dean Norris has been a detective in 1.5 million shows and it shows. He looks worn down. Elizabeth Shue is Mrs. Kersey. She was bumped off early so she didn’t have to hang around to watch the other pitiful performances. Camila Morrone, as Kersey’s daughter, had the best part as she was in a coma though most of the movie. Overall, you will see better acting on day-time soaps.
To his credit, the director does allow the media to debate whether or not Kersey is The Grim Reaper or is a much needed Guardian Angel. But, even that argument generated no passion. The gun shop “owner(?)” was depicted as silly blonde, hardly to be taken seriously. If one was going to make a movie about the need for self-defense, her character was a poor caricature of a serious issue. Bruce Willis is at his best when he is a smart-alecky tough guy; this vehicle does not allow for that side to come through. Will there be a Bruce Willis’ Death Wish 2? Lord, I hope not. This one should be put out of its misery. Perhaps this Death Wish had a death wish.