Once upon a time, Bruce Willis was one of tthe biggest action heroes on the planet. That time is long gone though. For the last few years, Willis has been sleepwalking through role after straight to DVD role, clearly just showing up for a paycheck. But now at 62, maybe it’s time for a career renaissance thanks to a reverse Liam Neeson. Instead of going from dramatic actor to old action hero, how about he give up his yippi-ki-ya motherf–king days, and get serious again as a veteran of the screen?

That certainly appeared to be what was happening in the opening moments of this first trailer for Death Wish, director Eli “Hostel” Roth’s remake of Death Wish. Much like in Michael Winner’s classic 1974 vigilante film that saw Charles Bronson as a family driven to take the law into own hands, the trailer opens with an engaging discussion about a man who stopped and killed some carjackers. It’s 2017, so the video of this “Grim Reaper” exacting brutal justice goes viral, sparking a discussion of whether he was right to do so. As we learn that the Grim Reaper is Willis, out for revenge when the system has failed him, it appears like Roth is actually interested in examining the moral implications of doing wrong for what you believe is right.

Then suddenly we’re watching a trailer for a different movie. It’s like Roth remembered that Willis’ most famous role as Die Hard’s John McLain saw him as a wisecracking badass, so instead of the grim and violent downward spiral of an everyman, we get dad jokes, a rocking soundtrack and a winking young girl telling sexagenarian Willis that he’s “cocked, locked and ready to rock”.

It’s like Roth suddenly remembered that Willis’ most famous role as Die Hard’s John McLain saw him as a wisecracking badass, so instead of the grim and violent downward spiral of an everyman, we get dad jokes, a rocking soundtrack, and assault rifles hidden in secret compartments. Oh and a winking young girl telling sexagenarian Willis that he’s “cocked, locked and ready to rock”.

Now I will say that this may be a case of a trailer just totally misrepresenting a final movie’s tone, as I can certainly see how some of these scenes would play out a lot more seriously without the AC/DC and rapid fire editing. The film is actually penned by Joe Carnahan (The Grey, NARC, The A-Team), who was originally set to direct as well, and who has definitely shown himself to be a more introspective filmmaker. Even if that’s not the case though, and the trailer is fully indicative of what we’re going to get, this still may not be a bad film. It sure as hell is not the Death Wish remake I expected though.

While the original Death Wish achieved cult classic status in later years, when it was first released it was thoroughly lambasted by critics for glorifying vigilantism. In a modern America in which shootings on the street (especially when hoodies are involved) is such a touchy topic, it just seems like Roth has missed the opportunity to use his version of this story as a proper talking point about this subject. Instead, we have Willis shooting up some faceless hoodlums with a variety of firearms all while trying his best to battle an acute case of narcolepsy. Again.

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Death Wish also stars Camila Morrone, Vincent D’Onofrio, Elizabeth Shue, Dean Norris and Mike Epps. It is scheduled for release on November 22, 2017. Here’s the full official synopsis:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures presents director Eli Roth’s reimagining of the classic 1974 revenge thriller DEATH WISH. Dr. Paul Kersey (Bruce Willis) is a surgeon who only sees the aftermath of Chicago violence when it is rushed into his ER – until his wife (Elisabeth Shue) and college-age daughter (Camila Morrone) are viciously attacked in their suburban home. With the police overloaded with crimes, Paul, burning for revenge, hunts his family’s assailants to deliver justice. As the anonymous slayings of criminals grabs the media’s attention, the city wonders if this deadly vigilante is a guardian angel or a grim reaper. Fury and fate collide in the intense, action-thriller DEATH WISH.

Last Updated: August 4, 2017

Kervyn Cloete

A man of many passions - but very little sleep - I've been geeking out over movies, video games, comics, books, anime, TV series and lemon meringues as far back as I can remember. So show up for the geeky insight, stay for the delicious pastries.

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