Bruce Willis to Star in Eli Roth’s ‘Death Wish’ Remake
It’s been a frustrating couple of years for Bruce Willis fans. After a long and successful career at the very top of the Hollywood Star Machine, Willis has slowly worked his way down into B-level fare. And B-level might be generous; a lot of his movies these days get a cursory release and then go straight to VOD, if they show up in theaters at all. Most of these movies have titles so generic they’re impossible to tell apart by name alone. Was The Prince the one about the dystopian sci-fi with sex robots? Or was that Extraction? Or Precious Cargo? Marauders? Oh wait, it was Vice. According to IMDb, Willis is currently making a movie that really sums up this whole period: The Bombing.
But a new report from Deadline reveals a project that might set the Die Hard star back on track. Willis will star in a remake of Death Wish for Hostel and The Green Inferno director Eli Roth. The project, an update of the 1974 Michael Winner film (inspired by the novel by Brian Garfield) that became a surprise hit and launched a long franchise into the 1980s, has been in the works for a while. For several years Joe Carnahan was attached. His script was later revised by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, and it’s their take on the material that Roth will direct for Willis.
There are some interesting parallels between Bronson and Willis at this point in their respective careers (that point being the point that they made Death Wish). Bronson was 52 in the first Death Wish; Willis is already 61, with a long career in action films, but if Death Wish shows a darker side it could give him a renewed edge his recent work has lacked.
Of course, that depends on how edgy Roth wants his Death Wish to be. The original film was a troubling drama about a man who becomes a vigilante after the murder of his wife.The four sequels were cartoons about a guy blowing away comically evil bad guys. Like this scene, from Death Wish 3:
You’d expect the guy who made the Hostel films to go in a very dark direction with Death Wish, but this quote from Deadline suggests maybe not:
Roth takes the job after the exit early last month of Big Bad Wolves helmers Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado, who left over creative differences when they wanted changes in a script Willis had signed off on; the studios didn’t want to go in that direction on what they hope will be a down-the-middle franchise launch.
I’m not sure what a “down-the-middle” Death Wish franchise looks like. I guess we’ll find out. In the meantime, the entirety of Death Wish III is currently available on YouTube through the Paramount Vault, and the film is so completely insane it’s kind of awesome and entirely hilarious.