After “Territory of the Wolves”, Joe Carnahan wants to reunite Liam Neeson and Frank Grillo in “Death Wish” but abandons the project due to creative differences. If he remains credited to the script, the filmmaker castigates Eli Roth’s remake before its release, revealing that the film took a very different direction from what he wanted.
Death Wish : Bruce Willis succeeds Charles Bronson
While he is already chaining interchangeable DTVs between two good surprises (Glass, Brooklyn Affairs), Bruce Willis made his return to the cinema in 2018 in Death Wish. A remake by Eli Roth (Hostel, Knock Knock) from watchful movie worship A vigilante in the city of Michael Winner, where the star succeeds Charles Bronson in the role of Paul Kersey.
In this new adaptation of Brian Garfield’s novel, the character is an emergency surgeon living in the beautiful neighborhoods of Chicago with his wife Lucy (Elisabeth Shue) and their daughter Jordan (Camila Morrone). One evening, the latter are brutally assaulted while Paul is in surgery at the hospital. His companion dies, while his daughter is in a coma.
He relies on the police but finds that their investigation is not progressing because of the multitude of cases to be dealt with. After getting a gun, Kersey decides to take the law into his own hands. He embarks on a crusade of unheard-of violence, taking a liking to shootings and torture.
Vincent D’Onofrio, Dean Norris, Beau Knapp, Kimberly Elise and Len Cariou complete the cast of this feature film, accused on his release of advocating the carrying of arms while mass killings increase in the United States. To this critical outcry is added the failure at the box office, since Death Wish collects only 49.5 million dollars in worldwide revenue for an estimated budget of 30 million.
“A Cocky Action Star”
A flop that occurs after more than ten years of gestation. Death Wish is a project that passes through many hands, including those of Sylvester Stallone and Joe Carnahan. In 2012, the director of the excellent Narc and Bounty finds himself at the controls of the film, in which he wishes to reunite Liam Neeson and Frank Grillo after The Territory of Wolves. He ends up throw in the towel due to disagreements with MGMwho wants to impose Bruce Willis in the main role.
In an email to former MGM president Jonathan Glickman after his departure and revealed by The Hollywood Reporter in 2013, the filmmaker declared:
You had a potential Oscar-winning movie with maybe the best script in Hollywood but since you’re a coward and an idiot, you end up with an inexperienced director (Gerardo Naranjo, editor’s note) and an action star arrogant (Bruce Willis, editor’s note), lazy and aging who will sink this poor kid.
Joe Carnahan back against the remake
In 2016, Eli Roth helmed the film. Joe Carnahan remains credited as the primary screenwriter of Death Wish, while its script was rewritten. Asked by Colliderhe castigates the fact that his vision will not be preserved:
Filming is going on right now, they’re filming a version (from my script) with Bruce Willis in Montreal or maybe Chicago, I’m not sure. (…) I saw this scenario, which was to be a reinvention of mine, and I would be much less sympathetic if I commented on it. (…) I think they got exactly what they wanted, and that wasn’t what interested me.
Joe Carnahan adds about his script and his desire to devote himself to it again in the future:
It’s not a crease, and I think I’ll wait a few years and come back to it because I think in terms of a genre film and a vigilante film, it was really cool. Much of the film was set in Los Angeles. (…) It was much closer to a film by Michael Mann and a Collateral than a movie with Bronson.
As for Eli Roth, he responds to criticism in 2018 during an interview with Entertainment Weekly, at the time of release. He claims to have wanted to make “a film about the protection of the family and how far we are ready to go when justice is not done”, specifying:
That’s not pro-guns.
However, at no time in Death Wish Paul Kersey’s taste for violence is only shown as a problem, which was A vigilante in the cityespecially in the unforgettable final shot where Charles Bronson’s gaze confirms that he has reached the point of no return, and that he is beyond recovery.