As The A.V. Club’s Vadim Rizov pointed out in his Run The Series feature, the Death Wish movies start off unpleasant, and end up downright icky. Like it or not, it’s not the ’70s anymore, and rebooting a trigger-happy cultural relic like this one is a delicate prospect. What MGM and Paramount need is someone with a subtle touch, someone who can turn a critical eye to the lone-wolf vigilantism, regressive racial and sexual politics, and fascist morality of Charles Bronson’s mild-mannered architect-turned-one-man army Paul Kersey, providing meta-commentary on the state of American masculinity as a result. Or they could just hire Eli Roth.
The studios have opted with the latter, according to Deadline, which says the gig is Roth’s attempt “to move from his bloody genre-film origins to studio fare.” (Seems like more of a lateral move, but whatever.) Bruce Willis is still set to star, after original writer Joe Carnahan—whose revisionist screenplay addressed some of the aforementioned themes—walked off the project after the studio insisted on casting Willis in the role instead of Liam Neeson. (And by “walked off,” we mean “called a studio executive a ‘gutless turd’ and a ‘a dumb cunt’ in an email.”) It’s unclear how much of Carnahan’s screenplay remains intact, but with the man who made The Green Inferno at the helm, any subtlety will probably be lost amid steaming piles of viscera anyway.
Seriously though, this project is a good fit for Roth, who recently left the giant-shark movie Meg for “creative reasons.” He can even cast himself as a leering, knife-wielding criminal! It’s a win-win.