When I saw this movie had surfaced on Netflix, I instantly remembered having seen it but I couldn’t quite remember the plot. As soon as I started watching, I remembered why I enjoyed this movie. And that is because it is an apparent revenge porn, for a lack of a better phrase. It’s vigilantism against the perceived wrongs. In the case of the main character, Dr. Paul Kersey, played by Bruce Willis, it’s making sure that criminals have consequences for their actions. It’s a social commentary on the American justice system and on how ineffective police are. As one of the characters in the movie says, police show up after a crime has been commited. They don’t prevent crimes. Only a man willing to defend his family can keep them safe, you have to do things yourself.
With all the issues that are currently being faced in the US and around the world regarding police, I feel this movie is contemporary but I would change it to better suit modern times. The way I’d change it is one that some might call me insane, and probably, nay, most definitely wouldn’t ever get made. I’d change it so that Paul’s family was murdered by a pair of cops responding to a call and being the trigger happy individuals that they are, it ends disastrous for his family. Meanwhile I’d have the other cops covering up this incident and the detective that Paul talks to tries to paint some criminals as the perpetrators. So because Paul is mislead, innocent (well not so innocent, still criminals) individuals end up on the wrong end of his gun.
The problem with such a fantasy is how would you end it? If you’re making a point against the failure of the police system, Paul can’t just summarily execute two cops. I mean he could, and that would be some cathartic revenge porn for a lot of people who are fed up hearing about cops shooting people in the back or in their own homes. These movies are a slippery slope. What I believe this movie is, is not gun porn nor is it revenge porn. It is showing how a man would react to having his family killed and maimed. Then getting fed up with the ineptitude of the police. In a way, it’s almost like the Punisher.
I didn’t watch this movie because I thought it was good, I watched it because it is satisfying. After hearing about so much injustice in the world, it’s cathartic to watch someone dole out their own special brand of justice even if it’s as simple as shooting with a gun. Criminals get their due comeuppance and our hero survives at the end, all is well. It’s why people enjoy subreddits such as justice served. Alas, the real criminals can’t be swiftly dealt with. Most of the criminals are products of their environments, of a lack of education. Of inept government services that merely want to maintain a status quo, the status quo. Those at the top, they are the real criminals. And no movie will be made like Death Wish in which they get their due diligence. The most we will get is that of the criminals they want gone, of how stories should be told so long as nothing upsets the status quo.
In regards to the acting, Bruce Willis tried somewhat here in contrast to his usual of just phoning it in for a paycheck. I can see he had fun with it, and his character came across as anguished. Vincent D’Onofrio as Paul’s brother, did quite well with what little had to work with. He played the angry uncle well. Camila Morrone as the daughter felt a little stiff and out of water, and turned out this was her first time acting in a feature film. Given that, pretty good for a first try. Elizabeth Shue as Paul’s wife was great for the little time she had as well, portraying fear for herself and her child during armed burglary. Lastly, Dean Norris as the detective in charge of investigation for Paul’s family was adequate as well. There was nothing special here needed, just someone that looks and acts the part of an older detective.
Closing thoughts, Eli Roth did a pretty good job with what he had to work with given that this movie is a remake of a series of movies and a book. His trademark bit of gore makes a couple appearances but thankfully nothing over the top, and actually went along with that catharsis for revenge. The villains were nothing special and simply pieces for the plot, no standouts here. I recommend watching this movie. I thoroughly enjoyed it.