Last month, we reported that the Death Wish remake, which is set to star Bruce Willis in the Charles Bronson role of a bereaved husband and father who goes on a killing spree to avenge his family, had lost Big Bad Wolves directors Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado. Today, THR reports that MGM and Paramount have got Eli Roth on board to helm the remake of the 1974 film.
When you look at Big Bad Wolves and then the gory work of Roth, it start to look like producer Roger Birnbaum wants Death Wish to be in the realm of torture porn. That being said, Roth has been trying to move away from films like Hostel and The Green Inferno. His last feature, Knock Knock, was a sexual thriller, and he was briefly attached to the giant shark movie, Meg before exiting that project back in March.
Death Wish is tricky subject matter. It glorifies vigilantism, but it does so in a gritty, realistic manner, so there’s not the fun, fantastical gap that something like a superhero tale provides. Additionally, Death Wish was very much a product of its time when crime was at sky-high rates, and a figure like protagonist Paul Kersey could be viewed as heroic for gunning down hoodlums in the streets. Today, audiences may take a more nuanced view of crime, and it may not be so easy to replicate the formula. The last successful vigilante flick was John Wick, but that again had a fantastical sheen with a larger than life world that allowed the protagonist to gun down faceless henchmen. Also, they killed a dog, and subverting that trope of vengeance gave the hero license to do whatever was necessary to avenge an adorable dog.
Here’s hoping that Roth can find a strong spin on the material. At the very least, he’ll be working from a script by American Crime Story screenwriters Scott Alexander and Larry Karazewski, so at least that’s an encouraging sign.
Here’s the trailer for 1974’s Death Wish: