Death Wish is probably a lost artifact of 70’s pop culture today, but it was definitely a very controversial film when it first hit theaters.
Obviously, New York’s been cleaned up considerably, but back then it was over-run with crime, and films like The Warriors and Escape From New York showed dystopian visions of where it could all lead to down the road.
When Death Wish came out in 1974, people were fed up with crime, and Charlie Bronson was the one man crime stopper that everyone lived through vicariously in the movies.
There were tons of Death Wish sequels in the eighties, which like the Friday the 13th films, just became ridiculous after a while. (In one Death Wish entry, wasn’t somebody killed with a soccer ball rigged with explosives?)
So with Kill Bill reinventing the “revenge” genre, which was pretty big back in the 70’s, Death Wish is of course being remade by Joe Carnahan, who’s hot off the box office success of The Grey. (Funny enough, Neeson’s been doing quite a few flicks lately that you probably would have seen Bronson in back in the eighties, like Taken).
Per usual, this remake has a minor change that’s supposed to differentiate it from the original, (this one takes place in Los Angeles! Oh wait, didn’t the later ones take place in L.A. too?), and once again, the term “reimagining” is being thrown around.
Carnahan told Cinemablend it will be in the vein of Michael Mann’s Collateral, adding, “It’s on buses, cabs, metro trains. I want to show an unseen version of L.A. L.A. on foot. Prowling. Hunting. The vast emptiness of downtown.”
Cinemablend even suggested that Liam Neeson should be brought in to replace Charlie, and it’s an interesting idea, but again it could also set him up for direct to Blu-ray if he’s not careful. We reported on revenge films on TG before, and it’s usually tough to do much with a simple revenge story.
Without a unique twist, or something different in the execution, it’s just somebody hunting people down one by one until he gets to the worst villain at the end. If the new Death Wish is going to fly, it needs to have modern cultural resonance, and be more than just a cinematic first person shooter video game.