Joe Carnahan discusses his rejected script for the DEATH WISH remake

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It seems writer-director Joe Carnahan still wants to see his Death Wish script get made, despite having exited the project due to creative differences. It’s a script that probably goes something along these lines:

  • something bad happens to lead character
  • Lead character seeks revenge and justice by causing as much violence and mayhem as possible.

Easy, peasy. Shouldn’t be too hard to make a movie out of that.  However it seems there is more to it and Carnahan would like the opportunity to get to tell it anyway.

The director pulled out of the project when Paramount and MGM suggested Bruce Willis for the lead role, whereas Carnahan preferred his frequent collaborator Frank Grillo for the lead role and preferred to instead pursue other projects (like the upcoming Bad Boys for Life). Since then, Eli Roth has stepped into the director chair for the remake. However they’re taking the franchise in a direction that Carnahan is not too excited about.

The director recently spoke with Collider where he got to share his views on the upcoming film and how he would’ve taken the film into a much more different, darker direction than the studio wants to go with it:

It’s being shot right now, they’re off shooting a version of that script with Bruce Willis, I think in Montreal, maybe Chicago? I’m not sure. It’s, you know, if you don’t have something nice to say, you probably shouldn’t say it. I got a glimpse of that script, that was reported to be kind of a re-engineering of my script, and I would be less than hospitable if I commented on that. And whatever, I think they’re gonna get exactly what they want, and that wasn’t what I was interested in doing, and bully to them for sticking their guns, and I’m content to stick to mine, and that script will live to fight another day. That’s what I’m gonna look forward to, because it’s so radically different from what I did that I’m confident I can rework that into something just as good as it is on the page. It’s really a great script, man.death-wish

Oh yeah, I don’t think there’s any question about [still making it], and I think I’ll wait a few years and explore that, because I believe that it’s, in terms of that genre and revenge vigilante, I just thought it was so cool. And it’s set in a completely different place. A big part of mine was where it was set, which is L.A. It wasn’t cold weather, it wasn’t a Chicago or New York film, it was an L.A. film, and it was much more of a Michael Mann kind of world, Collateral kind of world, than it was the original Bronson. And I think they’re going back to something that hews more closely to that, which is fine, but I’ll be interested to see what it does and what the reception is.

So, Carnahan was looking to take a more Collateral approach that builds up the tension than an action oriented approach from Bronson’s films. I’m not sure if its just sour grapes speaking, though I do actually think Carnahan’s idea of the film sounds quite interesting. Maybe if this new remake doesn’t work out for the studios they could revisit Carnahan’s angle in a few years’ time.

Last Updated: December 2, 2016

Craig Risi

A man of many talents, but no sense how to use them. I could be discovering the cure for aids or finding ways to achieve world peace, but I'd rather be watching movies and writing here instead.

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