It’s a little hard talking about the movie Die Hard and not immediately think of Bruce Willis movies, but — if the actor has his way — that’s going to change with this March’s Death Wish. A remake of the 1974 Charles Bronson classic, it sees Willis in the role of Dr. Paul Kersey, an experienced trauma surgeon and someone who has spent his life saving the people who are on the verge of death. But, after a home invasion leaves his wife being killed and his daughter plunging into a coma, his world gets turned upside down.
To cop his revenge, Bruce Wills gradually takes to the streets, armed, seeking some vigilante justice, eventually being dubbed “The Grim Reaper” by the media. The big question is whether or not he’ll actually find those responsible, or go all Batman on society’s ass and just seek out evildoers for the rest of his life.
Death Wish, is directed by Eli Roth, and the film co-stars Vincent D’Onofrio, Elisabeth Shue and Camilia Morrone alongside Bruce Willis. Like the aforementioned Bronson film, it’s inspired by the 1972 novel of the same name by Brian Garfield, which, in turn, was inspired by the author being the victim of a minor act of vandalism.
“I used to have an old convertible,” Garfield explains, “and had gone to a party at my publisher’s on the West End. I had parked the car down the street, and it was about 2 a.m. on a very cold winter night when I arrived at my car for the two-hour ride back to New Jersey, only to find that some vandal had slashed the convertible top to ribbons. It was a long, cold drive home.”
“Then,” he continues, “the cooler thought was, ‘Wait a second. If he slashed the roof, he must have a knife, and in that case I don’t know if I want to tangle with him’ By the time I got home, I was obsessed with the idea of revenge, and it began to occur to me that we all have the right to get mad. It’s a natural reaction to this sort of thing, but there’s something dramatically interesting about someone who gets mad and stays mad.”
It sure sounds as if that was a drive that saw him growing more furious, uttering a desire to kill whoever was responsible. That's just our interpretation from Garfield's words.
That's the starting point for the novel and both films, though in the book, Paul Kersey goes into the street to make a target of himself, his intent more personal than sociological. Added Garfield:
“He’s trying to get rid of his own demons. The point I tried to make is that anybody in that position is going to end up meeting out Star Chamber justice. You put a gun in your best friend’s hand, are you going to trust him? Vigilantism is a wonderful fantasy, but when you put it into practice, it’s not a solution. It’s another problem.
“If the streets were absolutely crowded with armed people,” he continues, “it wouldn’t just be Dodge City, because Dodge City had a couple of hundred people. We’re talking about millions of people. I don’t think you can equate an armed citizenry with the mythologies of Wyatt Earp or Wild Bill Hickok. It just isn’t the same world.”
Maybe not, but we're very cool with the idea of Bruce Willis out there taking care of business and kicking some serious ass.
Death Wish opens in theaters on March 2, 2018.