The reviews are in for the remake of the 1974 Charles Bronson revenge flick Death Wish, and it's safe to say that critics aren't treating it kindly. In fairness, this one never really stood a chance. The new Death Wish sees director Eli Roth and star Bruce Willis pair up for what may be the most poorly timed movie of all time. In the wake of the latest mass shooting to take place on American soil -- this time in a Florida high school, in an incident that claimed the lives of 17 -- the debate regarding gun violence and gun rights is louder than ever. So yeah, it's probably not the best time to release a movie where Bruce Willis illegally obtains weapons and goes around shooting criminals all willy nilly.
It's possible (not likely, but possible) that the horrible timing of Death Wish's release may have been forgiven if the final product was something resembling a memorable movie with something to say. Death Wish comes up short in that regard, as well, and it doesn't help that this generic bore of a revenge film is headlined by a big-time Hollywood star that flat-out doesn't seem to be trying anymore.
The past decade of Bruce Willis' career hasn't been completely filled with direct-to-video, 90-minute timesucks -- he was quite good in Live Free or Die Hard, Moonrise Kingdom, and Looper -- but more often than not, his recent films are sorely lacking the spark he exuded in his earlier work. Whether the 62-year-old is tired of being a pigeonholed action star or if he's just plain tired of acting altogether, the effort just clearly isn't there these days. Movies like these only go as far as their stars will carry them, and with Death Wish, that simply isn't very far at all. Check out The Most Brutal Reviews Of Death Wish ahead.
Somehow, Roth and his Death Wish co-conspirators convinced MGM to fund one of the most ill-timed, ill-conceived, ill-executed, and just plain ill – as in sick, diseased, rotten – films to grace the big screen in recent memory. And Daddy's Home 2 opened only four short months ago ... However this Death Wish came to be...shall remain a mystery. Just as no one will ever truly know why Willis jumped aboard, or who thought his participation was a good idea ... Willis perfects the art of well-compensated sleepwalking. His face is stone, his actions static, his voice the pitch of a telemarketer. -- The Globe and Mail
The film's lifeless comedy is somewhat offset by the unintentional humor of Willis's half-hearted attempts to capture the softer side of Paul's domestic life. The character's ostensibly affectionate smiles toward his family come off as rictuses on his face, as if Willis were attempting to disprove the notion that it takes more muscles to frown. Worst of all is any scene where Paul has to say “I love you,” a sentence that Willis delivers with approximately the level of conviction as an Al Qaeda hostage reciting a false confession ... Death Wish is but the latest and most garish example of Willis acting as if it causes him physical pain, growling through his lines in muted disgust at having to slum through a cheap pulp exploitation. In that sense, perhaps, maybe he still is the voice of the viewer. -- Slant Magazine
The new remake of Death Wish, directed by torture porn auteur Eli Roth, is a loathsome, tone-deaf, moral monstrosity, and possibly the worst-timed movie release ever. But you knew that already. What’s surprising is how inept it is, and what a wooden, subpar performance from its normally reliable leading man ... Willis’ performance may go down as the worst of his career. This is his first starring role in almost five years, as he’s been mostly toiling in direct-to-DVD fare the last few years, and to say he’s lost a step is an understatement. He practically sleepwalks, emotes poorly, tanks his major monologues, and spends most of the film looking tired and out of breath. -- Splice Today
Preying on a hurting city might be forgiven if the movie was any good. But Willis, who was once a formidable action star, is performing “Die Hard With an Ambien” as he exhibits zero emotion and mutters under his breath like an accountant who’s upset with his boss. -- New York Post
Death Wish lacks anything unique at all, except perhaps the degree to which it feels so spectacularly, catastrophically ill-conceived and yet bereft of any personality or anything distinctive, a tepid remake of an already dubiously executed movie that inexplicably doesn’t even double-down on those elements that would best antagonize its critics to make for something, well, if not gleefully irresponsible, at the very least memorable ... Willis is distractingly unresponsive, doing the movie no favors as he lumbers through each scene as if in search of nothing more satisfying than the warmth of his trailer, and possibly a day’s paycheck. -- Bloody Disgusting
More than just a feature-length commercial for the NRA, Death Wish is such a masturbatory fantasy for modern conservatives because it suggests that every do-gooder Democrat is really just a Republican waiting to happen ... Played by Bruce Willis (whose catatonic performance suggests that he was only paid enough to afford two facial expressions)... -- IndieWire
As subtle as an NRA recruitment video, and about as emotional, Eli Roth’s Death Wish is that horror filmmaker’s remake of a ’70s vigilante film that nobody was asking for. Bruce Willis, looking decrepit and acting like he gave his last damn a dozen years ago, stars in what plays like an old man’s movie for angry, emasculated and frightened old men ... Roth, who hasn’t directed that much for a guy with his grossly inflated (horror) reputation, can’t get out of his own way here. And any thoughts of this reviving a career Willis seems to have lost interest in bleed out long before the closing credits. -- Movie Nation
It’s hard to imagine a movie more tone deaf and ill-suited for its time than Eli Roth’s remake of Death Wish. 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. -- Collider
Willis is a major problem for “Death Wish,” with the former A-list actor continuing his career free-fall, content to play everything as emotionless as possible. It’s strange casting, as Willis hasn’t been energized in years, with the production hoping to tap into some feral “Die Hard” mojo, only the leading man often looks as though he’d rather be anywhere but in this movie, dangerously underplaying critical scenes of grief and rage. Willis is totally flat, making one wish that D’Onofrio was playing Paul, offering the picture more than cold stares and snoozy line-readings. -- Blu-ray.com