When a film is remade it must be either of the things mentioned below.
- Better than the original – “The Departed”
- Provide something new or extraordinary that justifies the reason to remake the original in the first place – “Shaurya”
- Add a new dimension to the original that makes it a whole new film – “Deewangee”
- A whole lot more fun than the original even after having the basic premise and structure of the original in place- “Ek Ruka Hua Faisla”
If it is not, then the reason for remaking the original is not justified. Death Wish in itself was not a great film. It was highly entertaining, had some great action sequences and above all, it had a charismatic leading man (Charles Bronson) who covered up for a lack of coherent plot, reason and believability and logic in many places. In Eli Roth’s remake, Bruce Willis is unable to be a distraction as big as Bronson and hence time and again our attention is drawn to the factors that we should not have been attracted to.
Paul Kersey (Bruce Willis) is a rich and happy surgeon who is dispassionate about his job. He is so used to deaths that saving a cop means the same to him as saving a hood who shot that cop in the first place. Things turn for the worse for him when his wife and daughter are violently attacked by a gang of burglars at his home. His wife succumbs to her wounds while his daughter ends up in a coma. Kersey’s world comes crashing down and there isn’t anything that he can do about it. In frustration, he turns to gunning down baddies at night wearing a hoodie which atleast gives him satisfaction. Soon it becomes a habit and he is hailed as a hell-raising vigilante known as the Grim-Ripper who shoots hoods without mercy or remorse.
Death Wish is an unnecessary remake. It is not bad. It is not great. It is just a modern version of the classic with no teeth. There is a lot of action. There is a lot of frustration but all of it leads to nothing. My biggest issue with the film was the fact that I felt nothing for the protagonist. His tragedy is worked up but the performances are so laid back and one dimensional that chances are you will not feel anything. True! It’s enjoyable to see Willis blast through a large number of baddies but it doesn’t give the kind of kick that the Charles Bronson starrers gave.
We have seen a film like this a million times and out of those times some made sense, some were really bad and a few ended up somewhere between. Death Wish is of the third category. Roth could have atleast tried to put some blood-curdling set pieces in the midst of things but he plays it safe. What made some of his previous films so very hip was his audacity to infuse some real sickness into them. The only way Death Wish could have been different and worthy of being remade was if he infused some of that sickness that made The Hostel Series such a cult favorite.
He could have done away with A-list stars and introduced new faces with some earth-shattering sickness. That would have made this film different and appealing to a generation that has seen it all in terms of retribution violence. This was the kind of film that needed a grind-house treatment and if made in that way, this would have been a stunning and wicked watch. But Roth takes a safe route sticking to the original and shunning almost everything disturbing about it. This results in the film ending up meek and generic which incidentally is the worst that he could have done with this kind of material.
I liked this film till the time the credits started rolling and it was then that it struck me how ordinary the whole treatment and material was. As I thought more and more about it, I realized how great this film could have been and that kind of pissed me off on how badly it fizzled out.
I wanted to love this film. I loved its original. I was really looking forward to it. But in the end, it turned out to be an underwhelming and meek attempt at recreating the charisma of a visceral and audacious entertainer that was bold and physical. Highly Disappointed.
Rating ; 2/5 (2 out of 5 Stars)