A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Death Wish is a remake of the 1974 Charles Bronson movie about a vigilante out for justice (both films were based on a novel by Brian Garfield). Violence is extremely strong, with lots of blood, including spurting blood, bloody wounds, and other gory scenes. Guns are seen and shot frequently, characters die, women are threatened and attacked, and a character is tortured. An injured, bloody deer is shown. Language is strong, with many uses of "f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," and more. A teen girl is ogled by one of her tormenters; he admires her "strong thighs." On a TV screen, a woman with a naked bottom is shown bowling, and a married couple kisses. The main character (Bruce Willis) has empty beer bottles in his home, and there's social drinking. It's hard to imagine this appealing to anyone other than director Eli Roth's fans.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In DEATH WISH, surgeon Paul Kersey (Bruce Willis) lives an ideal existence with his loving wife, Lucy (Elisabeth Shue), and teen daughter, Jordan (Camila Morrone), who was just accepted to college. But in Chicago, violence is rampant, and after a crooked valet parker notes the family's address, three masked men break into their house. Paul isn't home, but the women fight back -- leaving Lucy dead and Jordan in a coma. Paul waits for police detectives Raines (Dean Norris) and Jackson (Kimberly Elise) to find clues, but nothing happens. After his wife's funeral, he's inspired to pick up a gun and go out at night. He kills two carjackers and finds the experience energizing. So he becomes a hoodie-wearing vigilante and finally stumbles on a clue that leads to his wife's killers. But one is still loose...
Is it any good?
Director Eli Roth's remake of the 1974 Charles Bronson movie (both based on Brian Garfields' novel) is not only awful, it's also incredibly thoughtless, with a brutish, simpleminded argument. The Bronson version was troublesome, but it worked, and it was the '70s. Now we're in a vastly different time, and the entire idea is insensitive and foolish. This Death Wish does offer a few arguments against vigilante violence, but for the most part, it wants us to root for its "hero" and hope he'll get away with his crimes. Perhaps worse, Roth's career full of excessive violence and torture -- including another exploitation remake, The Green Inferno -- indicates that he was probably more interested in blood splatters than in actual ideas.
The screenplay starts awkwardly, showing just how cozily perfect life is at the Kersey home, which supposedly heightens the "shock" when things go south. And it doesn't quite make sense that Kersey is now a surgeon rather than an architect (as in the original); a man sworn to protect life shouldn't resort to killing so quickly. In some scenes, he's as efficient as a streetwise action hero, while in others, he's ridiculously clumsy and careless. Willis can't help but play him with a sheepish look much of the time, and Beau Knapp is flat-out bad as a sneering, cunning killer. It's an unwelcome movie no matter what, but the argument between "taking the law into your own hands" and "letting the ineffectual police do nothing" is an insult in a time when conversation has moved on to more pressing topics.
Talk to your kids about ...
What is the movie trying to say? Is it ever OK to take the law into your own hands? What if law enforcement isn't effective? Does the movie show that there are consequences for vigilantism? What are they?
How does this remake compare with the 1974 movie? How does it compare with the book?
What did you think of the movie's strong language? How much is OK for kids to hear? Is the profanity realistic?
How realistic is the teen character in the movie? How does she handle or react to the violent situations in her life?
- In theaters: March 2, 2018
- On DVD or streaming: June 5, 2018
- Cast: Bruce Willis, Elisabeth Shue, Vincent D'Onofrio
- Director: Eli Roth
- Studio: MGM
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Run time: 108 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong bloody violence, and language throughout
- Last updated: June 23, 2020
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