MARCH 2, 2018 -- Why oh why does Hollywood feel compelled to continue to release re-makes? More importantly, why do they re-make films that shouldn't be remade? If it's to serve the younger generation, simply restore the originals and re-release them! Egad.


The latest attempt is an update on the 1974 Charles Bronson actioner "Death Wish" which pretty much says it all. Much like the attempt to remake Bronson's 1972 classic "The Mechanic" by casting Jason Statham in the titular role in 2011, one can not replicate the stoic coolness of Bronson. This time director Eli Roth decides to cast Bruce Willis as vigilante Paul Kersey. Yikes!


This is after a lot of rethinking of the film originally proposed by Sylvester Stallone twelve years ago. After Stallone dropped out, Joe Carnahan ("The A-Team", "Smoking Aces") got involved and considered casting Liam Neeson in the lead. The helm fell to Gerardo Naranjo ("Miss Bala") who then considered Benicio Del Toro in the lead. After another change in directors, Roth... the projects fifth choice took over with Willis in the lead. Adding to the delayed release, Annapurna took over distribution from MGM, then relinquished the domestic distribution back to MGM while Paramount Pictures practically washed its hands of the film as the relase changed from November 2017 to now. Films with this much preproduction drama rarely turn out well.

In this revision, Kersey is a surgeon (Bronson's version was an architect) whose lovely wife (played by Elisabeth Shue) is murdered and daughter(Camila Morrone) is severely injured during a home invasion gone bad. When police detectives Raines (Dean Norris) and Jackson (Kimberly Elise) can't come up with suspects, Kersey goes out on his own to enact his own version of justice.


there are no spoilers because that is pretty much the story. The venue of death is changed from New York to Chicago with a lot of references to the real-life city's high murder rate. There is even a nod to the use of AR-15's which have come back in the news because of recent mass murders, though the film was made before the incidents; you can't help but sense some sort of socio-political editorial.


Were the film fails is the total lack of progression with Kersey. In the original, Bronson played a convincing victim who slowly develops into a better than average killer, by first using rudimentary weapons like a sock filled with coins. Eli chooses to have Willis go straight to using a gun, though he clearly is a novice. But there is no hesitation as it was in the original.


Roth, whose films include fright flicks "Hostel" and "Cabin Fever" goes more for graphic schlock rather than character development as more brains explode from heads, guts gush out of dead folk and bones snap with crystal clarity. But poorly edited gaps are glossed over by sophomoric gore. Willis sleepwalks through his performance as you wonder when he's going to say "Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker." This is clearly just another paycheck for him.


Even with her abbreviated role, you feel Shue was glad she got whacked early and won't be remembered for her participation. There is zero chemistry with Willis in the short time they are together on screen.


"Death Wish" joins that ever increasing list of film re-makes that never should have been made. It will be hard pressed to earn back the $30 million invested   -- GRADE D --   GEOFF BURTON