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Death Wish


Stars: Bruce Willis, Vincent d'Onofrio, Elisabeth Shue, Camila Morrone, Dean Norris, Kimberly Elise, Len Cariou, Jack Kesy, Ronnie Gene Blevins, Kirby Bliss Blanton, Ian Matthews

Director: Eli Roth

There are some movies - usually subtitled, very long, arcane and artistic, that are almost certain to receive favourable reviews - because of their content and their deliberately minor audience appeal.

No complaints there. Movies should appeal to all tastes and all kinds of cinemagoers.

Roth's rousing, strictly audience-aimed reboot of the Michael Winner (hardly hailed as a critics' favourite!) - Charles Bronson thriller sensibly centres on appealing to audiences seeking thrills and excitement and succeeds in delivering a slam-bang serving of action, thrills and suspense, effectively switching location from the original's New York to Chicago where emergency room surgeon Willis lives comfortably and happily with his life, wife Shue and daughter Morrone...

Everything changes when criminals break into his home, murder Shue and leave Morrone in a coma fighting for her life...hen a cop tells him, 'We're going to get these guys', Willis doesn't believe him, gets hold of an unregistered gun and, soon becoming described as 'Some white guy with a hoodie', turns murderous vigilante ('Somebody has to do it!') to avenge his wife's death...Willis convinces both as dedicated avenger (Grim Reaper or Guardian Angel?) and as a medic and D'Onofrio is surprisingly restrained (remember Law and Order: Criminal Intent?) and all the more effective for it as Willis' brother (a new character who did not appear in the Bronson original).

Ironically, perhaps, the line 'This is straight out of a comic book' doesn't really apply here. Roth's fast paced direction, along with strong performances and crisp editing, delivers the action-thrill goods for filmgoers seeking well-crafted visceral entertainment designed to give value for money for genre fans.

(Only an out-and-out cinematic cynic would wonder what its critical reception might have been If Roth had filmed it in subtitled Croatian).

Alan Frank

USA 2018. UK Distributor: Vertigo. Colour.
107 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 1, Swearing 3.

Review date: 07 Apr 2018