Death Wish (2017)

In Cinemas Now

They came for his family. Now he's coming for them.

Eli Roth's reimagining of the 1974 revenge thriller, with Bruce Willis as a man whose wife's murder turns him into a ruthless vigilante.

Dr. Paul Kersey (Willis) is a surgeon who only sees the aftermath of Chicago violence when it is rushed into his ER – until his wife (Elisabeth Shue, Leaving Las Vegas) and college-age daughter (Camila Morrone, Never Goin' Back) 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.


Directed by

  • Eli Roth('Hostel', 'The Green Inferno', 'Knock Knock')

Written by

  • Joe Carnahan
  • (based on the screenplay by Joe Carnahan and the novel by Brian Garfield)

Action, Crime, Thriller


Rating: R16 Graphic violence & offensive language


It's hard to think of a worse time for this movie to come out. Eli Roth's remake of the vigilante classic is what I imagine George Zimmerman's favourite NRA TV show is like. Its release now — between the recent Parkland massacre and the upcoming US gun law reform march the school shooting inspired — is a bit like a Harvey Weinstein sex comedy starring Bill Cosby coming out late last year.

However, Roth's Death Wish is a stripped back, pure cinema experience whose repugnant politics are part of the perverse charm. It’s so utterly stupid that it’s endearing, like pretty much every action film made in the ‘80s; but this has a bunch of modern flourishes thrown in. Most notably, contemporary special gore effects, which are put to use by a director renowned for his excessiveness. Much blood is spilt, some brains are splattered and a neck is savagely broken. But perhaps the most extreme bit of violence is an inventive leg torture technique that has the professional surgeon carrying it out explain explicitly why it’s so effective.

But God, this movie is dumb. The script is simplified to the point of almost being insulting, with characters actually saying things like “I’m happy” and “he’s pissed”. Bruce Willis gives a strangely sleepy performance that’s somehow still less wooden than Charles Bronson in the original. The scenes attempting dramatic oomph may inspire instead giggles or sighs, but nobody goes to a movie called Death Wish expecting a drama.

As well as delivering the goods on the violence front, Roth has put together the extended suspense and action sequences brilliantly. The movie that ties them together is pretty much morally indefensible, yet I can’t deny how much I enjoyed it. Thinking of it as a dark satire about the American psyche makes me feel less dirty about it... but only a little.

Los Angeles Times


To criticise Death Wish for its indelicate timing would be to suggest that there might ever be an appropriate moment to see it.

Hollywood Reporter


Though armed with enough gore and pandering violence to enjoy some success with moviegoers who haven't yet been burned by star Bruce Willis' many recent flops, this generic attempt at a franchise reboot deserves to be killed.

New York Times


An imbecilic misfire.

Variety (USA)


"Death Wish," make no mistake, is a movie that has its heart in the wrong place.

The Guardian (UK)


Ironically, a film about a guy with guts doesn't have any itself.



Unlike the original Death Wish where violence ruins everything it touches, in the remake, it's a cure-all. Happiness is only a semi-automatic away.

Rolling Stone


He's not remaking Death Wish. He's making what he thinks a person in 1974, sitting in a Forty-Deuce grindhouse theatre, would have seen in their mind while watching it ...

FilmInk (Australia)


Embraces the gleefully grotesque, cartoonish excesses of its genre, and comes out well ahead on points. (James Croot)


Seems to settle on, as one of its onscreen commentators puts it, "normalising dangerous behaviour".