As much as I love Death Wish (one of my dogs bears the name of the lead actor, after all), the story of how one man goes from a bleeding heart intellectual liberal to a vaguely racist vigilante who murders various “undesirables,” is a dicey proposition. The prospect of remaking it in the current political climate is extra challenging. It’s been a while since we heard much about this project, but apparently it’s back on and rolling, will star Bruce Willis, and the duo behind the Israeli thriller Big Bad Wolves will take the helm.
The Grey’s Joe Carnahan was going to direct Death Wish, and even said his version would contend for an Oscar, but according to Deadline, Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado, the pair also responsible for the horror joint Rabies, will take the big chair. And when you need to cast an everyman driven to extraordinary actions, where does Hollywood look? Why, they look to Bruce Willis, of course. Willis is actually older than Charles Bronson was when Death Wish was released in 1974 (Willis is 60, Bronson was 53).
As is usually the case in situations of this ilk, this Death Wish will reportedly stay closer to the source material, Brian Garfield’s novel, than the subsequent film. The story follows an architect whose life is turned upside down when his wife and daughter are the victims of horrific violence. When the criminals are not held accountable, he arms himself and takes to the street to handle business on his own.
I guess I’d rather have Bruce Willis working on this than another atrocious Die Hard sequel, and if he shows up and is actually invested enough to try, the results could be something worthwhile. The material is there, and Kershales and Papushado certainly have the goods. Big Bad Wolves is a dark, grim revenge thriller full of unnerving tension, complex characters, shifting perspectives that never let you stay in one place for long, and a pitch-black gallows humor that plays with your expectations.
To say this is unnecessary should be, well, unnecessary. Regardless of how I feel, Death Wish is happening, but at least they have intriguing pieces in place, and this will be interesting to watch develop. Let's hope it isn't shitty.