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Wrong film at the wrong time

06 April, 2018 — By Dan Carrier

Bruce Willis in Deathwish

DEATHWISH
Directed by Eli Roth
Certificate 15

WHAT a deeply unpleasant film this is. Simplistic in its message and with lots of gratuitous violence – it feels plain irresponsible in the current context to remake the 1970s Charles Bronson/Michael Winner flick about a man whose family are the victims of violent crime and so decides to tool up and wreak “justice” himself.

Bruce Willis is Dr Paul Kersey, a surgeon who spends his days in a Chicago hospital saving the lives of those who are victims of gun crime.

His wife is murdered and his daughter nearly killed during a break-in, and the Chicago police, swamped by shootings, are not making the headway he wishes. After a talk with his father-in-law, who totes a gun at poachers on his farm, he decides the best course of action is to get hold of some weaponry and become a vigilante. As he does so, he gets on the trail of those responsible for his wife’s death and begins to hunt them down.

Willis is tacky in the lead, placed in a role that does not let him blast away at Central Casting baddies and then end a scene with a quick quip like in Die Hard. The spring-blossom perfection of his family life before the tragedy jars, as if this is a template for a folksy-white American Dream, and scenes where baddies have their brains splattered isn’t just irksome, it is plain nasty.

This is hugely depressing film-making, and you just cannot escape the sense it is being released at the worst possible time. With the terrible tragedies we hear about due to the second amendment and gun law in the United States, and the way the NRA have their hands on the levers of decision-making in Washington, having a film that make a hero out of a man who decides to blast people to death feels just plain wrong.

Director Eli (Hostel) Roth tries to walk along a very wobbly tightrope by offering voiceovers from Chicago radio shows where people say “ooh fair play” or “ooh you can’t be taking the law into your own hands.”

For the memory of the thousands who have lost loved ones through guns in the USA, it is surely repugnant. It’s almost like we’re being offered a Trump-ian fantasy. I hope to forget about this film as quickly as I can.

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