Progressive film critics are going to HATE this movie. Most of them already played their hands back in August when the trailer for Death Wish was released and most in the media didn’t hesitate to call the film ‘alt-right’ and racist. Why? Because a white lead actor shot a black criminal with a gun in Chicago. This really isn’t a surprise as many people in the media have become obsessed with identity politics when it comes to films these days. You don’t have to read much into the praise of such films as Black Panther and Wonder Woman to see that. It is kind of sad since both are good movies that really don’t deserve the divisive stain of identity politics that some progressive media heads put on it. But I guess this will be the new norm until people finally get sick of it or a massive California earthquake cripples the film industry…Well until then we have Bruce Willis as Frank Castle in Death Wish.
Set in the city of Chicago, Death Wish takes place in a city that is rising in all sectors of violent crime including shootings and murders. A doctor by the name of Dr. Paul Kersey (Willis) is on call as his wife and daughter are viciously attacked in a home invasion. Paul’s wife dies and his daughter is in a coma. Struggling to overcome the feeling of failing as a father, Paul becomes intrigued with the idea of vigilante justice and decides that if the law can’t protect him and his family, then he will have to do it himself and take the law into his own hands.
So many things to unpackage here, first, this film is basically everything the Punisher Netflix series SHOULD have been. A story about a man whose family has been taken away from him by criminals and turns to vigilante justice to make those who wronged him pay. This is basically the Punisher with a much older lead. Now Death Wish is actually based on the 1970s film starring Charles Bronson. That film series was also despised by critics for pretty much the same reasons as today. It glorifies vigilantism and advocated for the harsh punishment of criminals. Well, history is going to repeat itself because Death Wish (2018) has many of those same elements. This film is very pro-2nd amendment so if you are one of those people who is currently calling for the ban of all semi-automatic weapons (aka all guns) right now, skip this one because I doubt you’ll enjoy it.
Now I have to call out a few things here, the film has a very slow build. Bruce Willis moves around the first 20 minutes looking nearly completely disinterested in the film. I think it’s safe to say that showing emotion is a pretty tough task for him at this stage of his career. As I mentioned before, the storyline isn’t very original, we have seen this plot before and done better. However, when this film gets going and Willis rocks the gray hoodie for the first time, you’ll find yourself on the edge of your seat throughout. The film is brutal in its action and gore, but seeing how this is an Eli Roth film, you really shouldn’t have expected less. The acting isn’t the strongest with novices such as Camila Morrone in the cast, but overall the lead veterans such as Vincent D’Onofrio and Dean Norris pull off what they need to make the film enjoyable.
As a person who loves 80s action films Hollywood just doesn’t make anymore and whose favorite comic book character is the Punisher, Death Wish is almost everything I could ask for in a modern action film. I predict another split among the critics and audiences are upon us. Critics will no doubt hate the film for what it represents but speaking for the audiences who saw this with me, it will be hard for you not to root for Willis in his search for vengeance against the thugs who wronged him and boy does he get his revenge. Death Wish is a great popcorn flick and another good reason Netflix’s Punisher was trash.