Director Eli Roth is pushing forward with his remake of the 1974 action film “Death Wish,” starring Bruce Willis, despite the fact that the current climate surrounding its themes have been called into question after the recent Parkland, Fla. shooting.
For those unfamiliar, the original film starred Charles Bronson as Paul Kersey, a regular guy from New York who takes the law, and firearms, into his own hands after his wife and daughter are the victims of a brutal attack. The trailer for the remake shows Bruce Willis following the same path, this time in Chicago. Some critics have said the action film glorifies gun violence at a time when the entire country is very sensitive to that issue.
“If a man really wants to protect what’s his,” a voiceover says in the trailer. “He has to do it for himself.”
From there, the trailer does a hard cut to Willis’ character saying he wants to buy a gun over various glamor shots of him killing bad guys with various weapons set to AC/DC’s “Back in Black.” The film’s release date was pushed from November 2017 to March 2, putting it right in the middle of the conversation surrounding gun violence in America. Coincidentally, the press day for the film fell on Feb. 15, a day after the Parkland shooting, prompting the event's cancellation. Roth, however, believes this is the perfect time to showcase this kind of story.
“I asked the same question,” he told Entertainment Weekly when asked why he was remaking the movie after 40 years. “The answer is, for me, so many of the same problems that were plaguing the country - that crime is out of control and police are overwhelmed and there’s no way to stop it - still feel very relevant today. It feels like however far we’ve gone in other areas, we have not progressed in terms of crime.”
As the outlet mentiones, a study done by the Brennan Center for Justice claims that violent crime rates are down in 2017, but notes that Roth is speaking less about the raw numbers, and more about a “feeling” in America today.
Despite critics slamming the movie for coming out at the wrong time, Roth insists he did not set out to make a pro-gun movie, but rather a film that puts the viewer in the main character’s position and forces them to ask what they’d do to protect their family.
“When people watch a trailer, they’re judging based on two-and-a-half minutes of material, and if it’s Bruce Willis shooting a gun, cut to AC/DC, some people are going to draw that conclusion. What I really try to do more than anything is show it how it really is, and leave it for the audience to decide,” Roth said. “One thing I’m very conscious of as a filmmaker in Hollywood is not telling the audience what to think, or how to think, and you can make the same argument about ‘John Wick’ or ‘Taken.’ Any action movie you can say is a pro-gun movie. It’s giving a story that allows people to discuss a difficult subject. In the same way ‘Get Out’ came out, everyone was allowed to discuss race and racism because of the movie.”
As previously reported, “Death Wish” opened third at the box office this weekend. As most movies, it was blown out of the water by Marvel’s “Black Panther” and fell behind the Jennifer Lawrence-led “Red Sparrow.”