Cert 15 107mins Stars 1

Bruce Willis takes the law into his own hands in this lacklustre and exploitative remake of Charles Bronson’s vigilante thriller.

From 1974 to 1994 the five strong Death Wish series was characterised by ever diminishing quality.

This new one fails to raise the bar, as Willis takes Bronson’s role as Chicago surgeon, Paul Kersey.

His life is destroyed when a home invasion goes fatally wrong, leaving his teenage daughter in a coma and his wife dead.

Tragically this removes Elisabeth Shue from proceedings, a sorely underused actress who in her brief appearance demonstrates she still has the charm she possessed in her break-through role as Ralph Macchio’s love interest in 1984’s The Karate Kid.

Kersey becomes a cold blooded killer as he pursues those responsible, and any other anyone else he feels like shooting.

With his running and punching days long behind him, Willis gives an underpowered performance.

His last decent starring role was 2012’s sci-fi time-travel thriller, Looper, and has since slid down the Hollywood hierarchy to become a supporting character in some very poor movies.

On paper this would seem to offer the possibility of late career comeback, in the manner of Liam Neeson and his Taken trilogy.

But Willis has misplaced his trademark smirk and lacks the Irishman’s physicality and smouldering menace.

Plus the shoot-outs are perfunctorily staged, the body count is surprisingly low, and the cartoonish violence betrays the director’s background in horror films as he fails to create a consistent tone.

A thinly-veiled defence of the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms, this is insufficiently exciting or provocative enough to be interesting.

And it’s difficult to forgive a film which demonises the Chicago’s black and Hispanic population in order to allow a wealthy white guy to summarily execute them.

My wish is for this supposed new franchise is for it to be dead and buried.


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