Movie ReviewsDeath Wish (2018) – A Gun Nut’s New Favorite Movie

Corbin StewartMarch 3, 2018

With all the gun control debates surrounding the United States right now, there can’t be a worse time for this movie to come out. 

Synopsis: Dr. Paul Kersey is a surgeon who only sees the aftermath of his city’s violence as it’s rushed into his ER-until his wife and college-age daughter are viciously attacked in their suburban home. With the police overloaded with crimes, Paul, burning for revenge, hunts for his family’s assailants to deliver justice. As the anonymous slayings of criminals grabs the media’s attention, the city wonders if this deadly avenger is a guardian angel…or a grim reaper. (eOne Films)

Starring: Bruce WillisVincent D’Onofrio, and Elisabeth Shue

Writer: Joe Carnahan

Director: Eli Roth

Rating: 18A (Canada)/R (United States)

Running Time: 107mins


For showtimes and more, check out Death Wish on

Right away, most of Death Wish is a slog to watch. The movie is selling you on the idea that Bruce Willis is a top medical surgeon in Chicago. Great stuff. Without having seen the original 1974 Death Wish, it is safe to say that 2018’s Death Wish is boring and pointless with a few fun scenes sprinkled throughout.

Eli Roth directs here, and with Eli Roth you know you’re going to get blood and gore. He for sure tones it down here – this is one of his more mainstream efforts – with the quick blink-and-you’ll-miss-it gore making for some really juicy audience reactions (each death elicited a strong gasp every single time in my screening) thankfully bringing some life in an otherwise dull script. Bruce Willis is still phoning it in it seems.

He can barely show emotion when his wife is murdered and his daughter is in a coma, only showing blank stares and gazes that amount to nothing. The first 20 minutes of the film is filled with scene after scene showing how respectful and restrained Kersey (Willis) is just to set up his gonzo death-craze arc. He goes and talks to his therapist like three times, talks to his brother, and talks to cops. Each scene more snooze inducing than the last. They make up half the movie. The majority of Death Wish is filled with meaningless scenes like these whose only purpose was to pad its run time. Certain scenes are just plain hilarious in how out of place they are. 

Roth also comments on the gang violence that has engulfed Chicago (a warped and twisted gun violence fantasyland Chicago), where the only man who can stop it is a bald, white vigilante. Death Wish lets the viewers know that America’s gun control laws are a farce, but also shows that a [white] man with a gun is the only way to solve any problems. Bruce Willis is literally Batman here. His hooded vigilante persona is nicknamed “The Grim Reaper” (by real-life radio hosts Sway and Mancow who have an ungodly amount of screen time) where the public is split on whether Kersey is doing the right thing by taking the law into his own hands. He even inspires other white suburban dads to help their communities by becoming a vigilante. It’s a white Republican’s wet dream.

This revenge fantasy is coated with dad movie cliches. From ACDC’s “Back in Black,” to a sexualised, skimpy girl selling AR-15’s at a local gun store, Death Wish manifests itself into a full on assault of the dad senses. It even finds a compromise between the great Lebron James vs. Michael Jordan debate! Honestly the more I think about it the more I enjoy this movie. Then you remember the flat, emotionless characters, (Vincent D’Onofrio as a creepy uncle?) the insipid motivations behind the original robbery, (never trust a valet) and the film’s awful timing mixed with it’s flip-floppy gun control messages and Death Wish ends up amounting to a cheesy action-movie with no merits.

Score: 4.5/10

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  • MovieManJackson

    March 3, 2018 at 10:43 AM

    I don’t think the climate alone is automatically enough to paint this as terrible. To me, it’s competent. But it does struggle with tone, thinking it’s smarter than it is, and some uninspired performances. Didn’t hate, but this decade alone has seen good to great revenge movies. Death Wish probably doesn’t deserve a watch in theaters outside of the most hardcore revenge fans.

    • Corbin Stewart

      March 3, 2018 at 7:35 PM

      There would never really be a good time for this to come out, the timing of it’s release *right now* isn’t the movie’s fault for sure, but it doesn’t help it. I agree, it’s not flat-out terrible, definitely has certain moments/scenes that are enjoyable, I found the majority of the film to be cheap.

  • Tony Briley

    March 4, 2018 at 7:52 PM

    I like action movies and even some gore is okay to a degree when I’m in the right mood. But Death Wish is one of those classics that should have been left alone. I’m not seeing what a reboot can add to it or make better than the original (which I didn’t care for very much). The upcoming Fahrenheit 451, Jumunji, and some others, the technology can make for a great movie with a great reflection of the original. But just someone angry and shooting people up, seeing it once is enough. Might be good for younger folks that have somehow never seen the original, and I might pick it up on video (I’m a gun loving Texas nut), but for the theater there’s too many better offerings.

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