By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs
is back and he’s absolutely sensational as a vigilante killer in “Death Wish.”
This re-imagined, gritty drama from director Eli Roth (“Hostel”) and Sacramento screenwriter Joe Carnahan (“The Grey” and “Smokin’Aces”)
is adapted from Brian Garfield’s 1972 novel of the same name. It’s also based on the original 1974 “Death Wish” movie which starred the late, great, Charles Bronson.
In the original “Death Wish” Bronson played a New York architect out for revenge after his wife and daughter are murdered. The updated “Death Wish” is set in Chicago and Willis stars as E.R. surgeon, Dr. Paul Kersey. His life is pretty spectacular. His lovely wife Lucy (Elisabeth Shue, “Battle of the Sexes”) and college bound daughter, Jordan (“Never Goin’ Back”) adore him.
But, his world soon comes crashing down.
Dr. Kersey (Willis) is called in to work on his night off and has to cancel his dinner and theater plans with Lucy and Jordan. It’s a decision that comes back to haunt his very soul.
Although Lucy and Jordan are disappointed, they decide to enjoy their night in and bake a cake. Before they can get everything set up, masked gunmen break into their swanky, Evanston, suburban home and violently attack them. These punks wind up killing Lucy (Shue) and leave Jordan in a coma.
When Dr. Kersey is informed by a fellow doctor, Chris Salgado (Mike Epps, upcoming, “Richard Pryor: Is it Something I Said?”) about what happened to his wife and daughter, Paul is devastated and doesn’t know where to turn.
Detectives Kevin Raines (Dean Norris, “Fist Fight”) and Leonore Jackson (Kimberly Elise, “Hellbent”) assure Paul that the police are putting every effort into finding the killers. They also tell him that they have plenty of open murder cases and it’s going to take some time. It is Chicago after all.
The days drag on and still no word from the police. Paul is losing patience with them and despite support from his younger brother Frank (a terrific Vincent D'Onofrio, TV’s “Ghost Wars”); he’s become extremely angry and depressed. So much so, that Paul decides to take matters into his own hands. He dons a hoodie, gets a gun and takes to the streets ready to ask questions, but finds trouble much quicker than he expected.
He intervenes and saves a black woman from being harassed by a couple of guys in an alley and she’s able to get away unharmed. He also prevents a carjacking. The heroic event is captured by a woman’s cellphone and it soon goes viral. Now, Paul’s actions have become the talk of the town. Many in the community are questioning whether this hooded killer is a hero particularly Chicago’s radio “shock jock” Mancow Muller and Sirius/XM talk host Sway.
Now, dubbed the “Grim Reaper, Paul is determined to piece together who killed his family. Once he realizes that the public is kind of on his side and down with his vigilantism, he goes all in. Paul wastes little time finding out a couple of the major players involved in the murders and it doesn’t end well for them at all.
Some of the outlandish scenes that director Eli Roth has staged here are incredibly exciting, but be warned, they’re also very gruesome especially one involving a car on a jack that comes crashing down on one of the killers splattering him all over the place.
Then again, the original “Death Wish” was deemed exceptionally violent for its time.
In light of the recent mass school shootings and rash of gun violence in the country, Willis’ “Death Wish” will likely face similar criticism.
Nevertheless, the mixed audience that I saw the film with thought “it was a blast and applauded and hollered at every revenge move Willis made. Perhaps “Death Wish” is merely a warm up for “Die Hard 6.”
Editor's Note: N2Entertainment.net
will be in La La Land this weekend covering the 90th Academy Awards.
Kitty O' Neal and I will be back on air next Friday, so be sure to tune in then at 6:40 p.m. to radio station KFBK 1530 AM and 93.1 FM.
In the meantime, check out this trailer For "DEATH WISH"
Lana K. Wilson-Combs is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics’ Association (BFCA), the Black Reel Awards Voting Academy and a Nominating Committee Voting Member for the NAACP Image Awards.