Release Date(s)2018 (June 5, 2018)
Studio(s)MGM Home Entertainment
- Film/Program Grade: C-
- Video Grade: A
- Audio Grade: A
- Extras Grade: A
The original Death Wish was a gritty drama from 1974 starring Charles Bronson that spawned several sequels over the years. Now in 2018, it joins the ranks of many other genre classics being remade for marquee value.
The story, like the original, is fairly simple and straightforward. Dr. Paul Kersey (Bruce Willis), a non-violent, non-aggressive man, becomes an unstoppable killing machine after a brutal attack on his wife Lucy (Elisabeth Shue) and his daughter at the hands of three armed men. Going after those responsible for assaulting his family, he also begins taking out other thugs who attempt to rob or kill other innocent people as well. As the attention of his exploits mounts, Kersey soon finds himself in a precarious situation, not wishing to reveal to anyone that he is, what the media refers to him as “the grim reaper”.
Death Wish is not one of Bruce Willis’ brightest moments as an actor. It’s as if he somehow knew the film was going to be a dud when he signed up for it and didn’t put forth any effort into making his character interesting. It’s also difficult to buy the concept that a doctor, especially a surgeon, would actually have the time to go out in the middle of the night and do what he does. The supporting cast hands in decent, passable performances, particularly from Kersey’s concerned brother Frank (Vincent D’Onofrio), but Death Wish is, without a doubt, a mediocre affair. While Eli Roth might have had his own vision, which was to make a gratuitously gory and violent movie, this modern retelling is simply run of the mill.
Regardless, MGM Home Entertainment has done a terrific job with their Blu-ray release of the film. The picture quality is simply breathtaking. Scenes shot in daylight are polished; colors are rich and vivid; black levels look exceptionally well-balanced; and skin tones look natural. Since it was shot digitally, everything from start to finish looks spectacular. There are also various audio tracks included, including an English 5.1 DTS-HD track. Dialogue comes through especially strong while sound effects, especially gunfire, are all loud and crystal clear. Other audio options include both French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital tracks. There are also optional subtitles in English SDH, French, and Spanish.
There are also a great deal of extras for this release. First is an audio commentary by director Eli Roth and producer Roger Birnbaum. Roth, who is highly enthusiastic about the film, does the majority of the talking here, covering topics which include the cast, the special effects, and the movie’s development. Next is a set of deleted scenes with optional commentary by Roth and Birnbaum; two extended scenes (Mancow Morning Show and Sway in the Morning); Vengeance and Vision: Directing Death Wish, an interview with Roth, Bruce Willis, and Birnbaum; a fake Grindhouse Trailer for the film, in the same vein as the one Roth did for the Grindhouse double feature film; the official theatrical trailer; and a set of sneak peeks that include trailers for Red Sparrow, The Belko Experiment, and The Handmaid’s Tale: Season 1. In addition, there’s also a DVD copy included.
Death Wish has some mild entertainment value, but it’s now a part of a long list of unnecessary remakes, which includes Psycho, Halloween, and Friday the 13th. But despite not being overly memorable, MGM’s Blu-ray release is simply phenomenal. Fans of the film are in for a real treat.
- David Steigman