MovieBob Reviews: ‘Shadow’MovieBob Reviews: ‘The Curse of La Llorona’ Stay on target Is Death Wish good?Nope.What’s wrong with it?I mostly wish it had more to say. The whole thing is very surface level, never really digs down into ideas or themes like even the original attempted to, doesn’t really seem to have a coherent point of view – so it comes off more shallow than anything, which is the opposite of what I’d hoped for. You could say I… had DEPTH wish.Ha ha. What’s the real deal?Have you seen the original?Pretend I didn’t.The original 70s Death Wish (starring Charles Bronson) was based on an ultra-dark novel about an ostensibly-pacifist family man who descends into a life of psychologically self-destructive urban vigilantism following the intense trauma of an attack on his family that he was unable to prevent. While enormously popular despite (or, perhaps, in spite) of being trashed by many critics and widely denounced by cultural-commentators of the time the original author railed against the film on the grounds that he felt it tacitly endorsed the very actions and viewpoints he had aimed to criticize. Which the filmmakers would respond to by… making four more increasingly cheezy sequels that DIRECTLY endorsed them.Sounds unpleasant.Yeah… it’s not exactly a high point for Bronson’s career (even if it did make him a box-office star for the first time) or the action genre, but at least the originals actually had the balls to be “about” something. The new one, which comes courtesy director Eli Roth (and an apparently substantially re-written screenplay originally from Joe Carnahan) is an ugly, mean-spirited, soulless slog that doesn’t even have the temerity of a commitment to either celebrating or criticizing the topically-loaded content of its central narrative; hobbled by Roth’s usual tendency to careen wildly between tones and perspective with seemingly no scene-to-scene cohesion beyond what the director thought might hold his interest on that particular day of shooting.What’s the storyline?An almost comically miscast Bruce Willis is on hand to alternately smirk and sleepwalk his way through the lead as a rich suburban dad. After a burglary gone wrong leaves his wife dead and his daughter in a coma. Conveniently he stumbles into possession of a Glock-17 and starts spending his nights stalking the post-apocalyptic urban hellscape apparently right down the street from his big-ass house ostensibly to look for still-at-large killers but really to assuage his survivor’s guilt by repeatedly almost dying in gangland shootouts. Things get out of hand when the anonymous “grim reaper” becomes a viral sensation on YouTube and the subject of talk-radio debate by real-life Chicago-area media personalities.I can see SO MANY ways that can go wrong…Indeed. But the thing is, instead of actually getting into the potentially difficult or challenging ideas it feigns at raising, the film just lets these things sit there as a decorative garnish. It lurches disinterestedly between the otherwise out-of-place slasher-style “money shot” kills where Roth can actually show signs of authorial life for a few moments. Sure, make no mistake, doing a “Hell yeah, gunslingin’ pissed-off uptown White dude cleanin’ up the inner city!” version of Death Wish would be just about the most irresponsible you could probably release right now – but at least that’s a point of view. This version wants to play coy and wink at edginess without actually touching anything remotely thoughtful, so it’s cowardly and thematically incoherent as a result.Examples?It winks in the direction of simmering-unease between lily-white suburbs and the inner city but also makes sure that all but one of the main break-in guys are white and trots out a succession of Black women to be the voices of moral approval for Willis’ vigilante rampage. It wants to make fun at the expense of NRA TV-style firearm-fandom and the tacky absurdity of upscale gun-shops catering to range toy hobbyists but also keep them on-deck for “Chekov’s slightly bigger gun” at the climax. A montage contrasting Willis’ day job as a surgeon with his nightly weapons-prep that should be one of the darkest sequences is inexplicably cut to “Back in Black” (which doesn’t even make narrative sense…)Wait – he’s a surgeon? Do they do anything with that?Yes! And you can see where all of this (including Roth as director, even) might’ve led to a decent movie. Just about the only interesting sequence leaves out the guns entirely in favor of Willis using his knowledge of surgery to gruesomely torture information out of one of the bad guys. This is not only more visually dynamic and “nasty” but also a more deeply disturbing and psychologically rich expression of the whole concept. You’d think this should be underlining his whole character (i.e., a guy gone so far around the bend that he’s using skills intended to SAVE lives for the exact opposite purpose like some kind of “slasher superhero.”) But instead it’s just a weird outlier that never comes up again.Anything else?There also seems to have been some substantial last-minute editing at play of the type that usually only happens when a studio already knows they made a bomb. Vincent D’Onofrio is onhand playing Willis’ screw-up brother who keeps showing up to remind us that he always owes people money to the point where even the cheap seats have to be thinking “Oh, clearly we can see the dark twist this is building up to…” But then it just turns out one of the robbers is actually an important local crime guy who makes no sense and fighting him gets to be the ending instead so the brother character is just completely superfluous.So you don’t recommend it.Nope – but judging by the box-office, nobody needs me to tell them that. I’m sure that when people get around to watching this it’ll probably find a not-especially-discriminating fanbase who’ll assume that it got bad reviews because “politics” or “critics don’t like guns” or some nonsense. But the fact is this just a boring, stupid, badly-made, thematically-incoherent, paint-by-numbers, totally disposable movie that’s honestly not even worth the time I’ve already given it.Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey.