Death Wish was supposed to come out on Thanksgiving weekend 2017. The reason for the delay was stated as Bruce Willis and director Eli Roth’s availability to promote the film. However, real life violence like the Las Vegas shooting might have made it a poor time for a vigilante film anyway.
A new trailer released today suggests the new Death Wish has addressed sensitive issues of gun violence for its release on March 2. The world in which Willis’s Paul Kersey takes to the streets is one in which people debate whether he should.
The original Death Wish adaptation starred Charles Bronson as Kersey and spawned four sequels. Author Brian Garfield was unhappy with the film, feeling that it glorified the sort of violence he intended to condemn in his book. The sequels only went further on that front. An adaptation of Garfield’s sequel novel Death Sentence was closer to the moral conundrum of vigilante revenge.
A trailer for Death Wish’s original Thanksgiving date had a more celebratory tone. When Willis sprang into action, it had AC/DC’s “Back in Black” playing as Willis took out criminals.
A simple change to a more somber, instrumental score gives the same footage the weight his actions require in 2018. Willis still has the one-liners, particularly in a scene with a therapist, but they now play more as laughing at the absurdity of the situation, a family man turning into a Bruce Willis action hero.
Death Wish certainly promises to satisfy the Die Hard crowd. Willis crushes a guy with a car and fires a hand cannon from his sofa. He also recreates Bronson’s iconic finger trigger gesture from the original Death Wish.
Presumably, Death Wish can be the beginning of a new Bruce Willis franchise as he begins his 60s. He’s still got one more Die Hard on the books, but Death Wish could be Willis’s Unforgiven. The same way western were to Clint Eastwood, Death Wish could recontextualize Willis as an action hero.
Death Wish is in theaters March 2.