What’s Wrong With This Picture?
Review by Ray Schillaci
The Movie Guys
In my world, rarely is a reboot called for. Once in a great while, there will be a remake that will justify itself. Some that come to mind are Peter Jackson’s King Kong, Cronenberg’s The Fly, Carpenter’s The Thing, the Coen Brothers’ True Grit, John Sturges’ The Magnificent Seven (not the sorry 2016 rehash), and even Marcus Nispel’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. These filmmakers not only paid homage, but made these films all their own, but far too many times I cringe when I hear about an underground classic being redone.
Making it even worse is when I see the wrong-mindedness in the publicity department along with an ill-conceived trailer. The ’70s is known for some of the most trail-blazing filmmaking. In 1974, director Michael Winner touched a nerve with his star Charles Bronson in presenting Death Wish to the public. Audiences waited in lines for hours, and people cheered in the theater as everyman Paul Kersey went on a vigilante spree as he took his vengeance out on the scum of the Earth after his wife and daughter were brutally beaten and raped. His wife is killed and his daughter left catatonic.
We witnessed the catharsis of the man as he struggled putting down dangerous criminals and we didn’t get a wink from the man until the very end when he held his finger out like a gun and pointed away at the scumbag. Now, 2018 has Eli Roth (Cabin Fever, Hostel) giving us an all-new Death Wish and a wisecracking Bruce Willis shifting the tone completely from the original. Maybe that’s okay. Perhaps it’s just suppose to pass as entertainment that will hit Redbox and Netflix a month after its release. But, it’s sad to see absolutely no reverence paid to a film that had such a dramatic affect on audiences and critics alike.
Even the new poster is all wrong. For anybody that remembers the original (and, from what this trailer shows), Kersey is exacting vengeance. He’s not protecting his family, because one is dead and the other is catatonic. And, if they’re not, they are definitely no longer being threatened throughout the film. The poster states, “HOW FAR WOULD YOU GO TO PROTECT YOUR FAMILY” (without a question mark). Is he protecting or exacting vengeance? Please, somebody tell publicity there is a difference. And, the silhouette is a guy with a chain. Is it suppose to be Paul Kersey or a random criminal? From the trailer, it looks like it could be our lead, Bruce Willis. But, now he’s going after people with a chain, and not a gun?
Wait, the trailer gives us Paul tearing up the place with a semi-automatic. What the heck?! Our every man wouldn’t know what to do with one of those. In the trailer, Paul appears to be a doctor, rather than the mid-mannered architect that Charles Bronson played. That’s why Bronson was so interesting to us. Bronson’s Paul Kersey was relatable. He wasn’t saving the Nakatomi Plaza from terrorists with his bare feet.
This is not to put down Bruce Willis. But, the trailer has Willis come across looking like he’s just doing another smug acting job. I’m also not attempting to drag Eli Roth through the mud either. It’s just the trailer and poster already are doing a disservice to his film before it opens. Besides that, I’m holding out hope because one of my favorite writer/directors is doing the screenplay on this project, Joe Carnahan (The Grey, Stretch). I guess doubt is also entering my mind since he has also been tagged to direct the American reboot to the 2011 action hit The Raid. Once again, why?
Check out the trailer and the poster, and see for yourself if it at all comes close to the power of the Winner film or Bronson’s appeal. Maybe it’s not suppose to. Maybe we’re not suppose to put many of those ’70s films on such a pedestal and producers should green light the hell out of future projects that were beloved hits just for nostalgic reasons rather than give them a reissue like they did back in the day. Let’s see, how about Billy Jack, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, A Clockwork Orange, Dirty Harry, and Bruce Willis can star in every one of them.