I have an incredibly overactive imagination. But when I woke up this morning there was just no way that I could have imagined myself ever typing out these words: Eli Roth is to direct Bruce Willis in a remake of the late Michael Winner’s 1970’s revenge thriller classic Death Wish.
The original 1974 Death Wish, loosely based on Brian Garfield’s novel of the same name, starred the late, great Charles Bronson as mild mannered New York family man Paul Kersey who takes justice – and a. 38 Smith & Wesson – into his own hands after his wife is killed and daughter sexuallly assaulted by some local thugs. After killing a different criminal during an attempted mugging on himself, Kersey gets a taste for vigilantism and soon starts stalking the streets of his neighbourhood to dish out his own violent brand of justice.
Despite fielding large amounts of criticism for its seeming encouragement of public vigilantism and extreme violence, Death Wish was a huge commercial success and spawned three more sequels all starring Bronson. The franchise would turn Bronson – who was already 53 years old at the time of the first film’s release and mainly known to European markets – into an American action hero icon (You could say he was the blueprint for Liam Neeson’s career).
There’s been talk of a Death Wish remake ever since Sylvester Stallone first announced plans back in 2006 that he wanted to direct/star in one. That went nowhere for a number of years, but in 2012 it was confirmed that MGM were actively pursuing a cast and crew to make it happen. Since then a lengthy list of names have been attached to the project, with Joe Carnahan (The Grey, The A-Team) seeming like the most likely and most high-profile candidate at one stage.
However Deadline are now reporting that MGM is in talks with director Eli Roth (Hostel, Cabin Fever) to take a crack at it. Bruce Willis, who had already been attached to the project has, now been confirmed to be taking on the starring role made famous by Bronson. It is believed that this new take will be tossing out the script draft once created by Carnahan and Dan Gilroy (Nightcrawler), and will instead see self-proclaimed 1970’s movie junkies Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski (The People v OJ Simpson, Big Eyes, Ed Wood) on penning duties, with them reportedly going back to Garfield’s original novel for inspiration rather than the 1974 movie.
Both Roth and Willis are in need of a big hit at the moment as both have not exactly been setting the Hollywood marquees alight. Willis in particular has been slumming it for the last few years, turning in sleepy performances in terrible movies, and seemingly just showing up for the pay check and free catering. Roth has never really recaptured the breakout success he endured on Hostel, with his extreme gore tendencies sometime getting the better of him. He did show with recent Keanu Reeves thriller Knock Knock though that he can still make movies that are don’t need somebody being dismembered while alive to be successful.
There’s no word yet on when this remake will actually be made, but with Roth recently dropping out of the prehistoric shark movie Meg due to creative differences, he does have a gap on his schedule.
Last Updated: June 21, 2016