*NEW* DEATH WISH REVIEW *NEW*

I must have had one watching this tripe . . .

Well, that was what I thought I was going to say.

Regardless of what I think of the man, Bruce Willis can still hold his own in this violent revenge flick.

Dr Paul Kersey (Bruce Willis) is an experienced trauma surgeon, a man who has spent his life saving lives. After an attack on his family, Paul embarks on his own mission for justice.

After the ghastly ratings, I expected something really dire. Being a fan of the original cult crime classic, I wasn’t the happiest to hear of a remake. I mean who could top the icon that was Charles Bronson?! BUT I found this latest rehash surprisingly watchable.

The rapid opening sequence (with a fantastic panning shot) riddled with reports of shootings all over Detroit spoke volumes. Finger on the pulse stuff for a generic shoot-em-up. Especially with what’s been happening with gun crime in the US.

Willis’ robotic introduction didn’t give me high hopes . . . At first. He was always going to have a tough act to follow. BUT it added a degree of cynicism to the surgeon as he apologised to the copper whose partner he couldn’t save. And then moved over to the next bed and saved the monster who killed him.

The family melodrama was incredibly cheesy BUT easy going enough as we waited for the inevitable to happen.

The pacing did leave a little to be desired BUT I wasn’t bored. I liked the fact that Kersey didn’t turn into a stone cold killer straight away. A slow burning montage showed a gradual transformation as this down beaten man grew frustrated with the system and his psychiatrist (Wendy Crewson – Air Force One).

Dean Norris was literally playing Hank from Breaking Bad as Detective Raines. Tied by the rules and hoping for the best.

It took a good 40 minutes before Kersey began his vigilante spree. Donning his Unbreakable hoodie and terrorising the streets.

I was a little sceptical that the tone felt as muddled as its message. It may have raised debates about gun crime and vigilantism BUT it was a bit hard to be taken seriously when Willis would then shoot a drug dealer to a bloody pulp in the next frame.

A scene between Kersey and his father in law (Len Cariou – Blue Bloods) was incredibly hammy as the old boy fended off some poachers and preached about “a man defending his own”. Yawn.

The mismatched song choices killed off the seriousness of certain scenes. Using YouTube to learn how to shoot and assemble guns to AC/DC’s ‘Back in Black’ spoiled what could have been a satirical boiling point.

However, the consumerization of gun culture was brilliantly encapsulated with Bethany, the sales girl at the Jolly Rogers’ gun emporium: “Easy forms to fill, nobody ever fails gun safety class, 100 per cent American made”. Talking about weapons like they were new cars. Kersey’s smirk at such hypocrisy said it all.

The vengeance spree was violent enough as the vigilante ‘honed his craft’. Working his way through the food chain. Looking for the ones who tore his family apart. An unsavoury interrogation with a shady car mechanic did not make for easy viewing after just eating a big ol’ bowl of spaghetti. That’s all I’m saying.

To be honest, I was more surprised at how ‘tame’ this really was. Especially when the director at the helm was Eli “Hostel” Roth. Normally the master of disgust BUT I was relieved to see that NOT everything was taken from the original i.e. the unsavoury rape scene.

It is what is. A violent actioner. Willis held his own and carried the film. It killed the time and deliver what I expected.

It wasn’t perfect and the kills were hardly memorable. I still remember Bronson’s newspaper kill (No, he didn’t kill a guy with a newspaper). BUT nowhere near as unmemorable as Wendy Crewson’s psychiatrist or Vincent D’Onofrio as Kersey’s useless (and incredibly annoying) brother-in-law. Nothing more than a meaningless red herring.

You could pick at the fact that if the police were looking for a vigilante in a dark hoodie, you wouldn’t walk into a public nightclub in said garb with pistol in tow. Come on!

BUT despite the muddled politics and mismatched tone, did we really expect this to be anything other a bloody shoot-em-up?

I just wish that cheeky trigger pose didn’t come off so tacky. Sorry, McClane. Charles Bronson, you ain’t.

2.5/5

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JOHN WICK REVIEW

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Woah! If you’re looking for a half decent action flick, I’d pick Wick.

An ex-hitman (Keanu Reeves) comes out of retirement to track down the gangsters that took everything from him.

Reeves’ deadpan delivery and ultra-serious demeanour have finally found its home.

This is probably the best I’ve seen him act in some time. His whispery voice, stone faced pallor and wooden delivery suited the mystery action man.

What I liked about John Wick was that it didn’t mess around. It set the premise up and got down to business. The only gripe I had about the opening was that it was a flashback. We watch Wick collapse to the floor bleeding out while looking at a video of his wife.

It wasn’t necessary and while everything else was entertaining enough, that little niggle kept reminding me that this was all a flashback. The hitman will get hit.

Wick gets the adorable little beagle within the first few minutes. And loses him with fifteen. I kid you not.

We get a sense of the isolated life that John has made for himself straight away. You could relate to his frustration and aggression quite easily. His angry test track burn out on an empty airfield demonstrated that perfectly.

I expected more flashbacks or flickers between him and his wife. Bridget Moynahan (Blue Bloods) had the easiest job going. What is it with directors giving talented supporting actresses meaningless roles? An extra could have played her part.

Now I must reiterate that this is not just a revenge movie over a dog. Apologies to the RSPCA lovers but the dog is merely a symbol of John’s love and grief. The fact he was not allowed to grieve.

That right metaphorically taken from him in the form of a bludgeoned beagle. The death was off screen and done as subtly as possible for anyone who doesn’t fancy seeing a little pup punished. So John seeks out vengeance on the idiots who thought it was funny to cross him.

If anything, it was all over a car. A Mustang. Wick didn’t want to sell and Alfie Allen’s cocky spoilt gangster brat Iosef Tarasov REALLY wanted it. What a fool. He really picked the wrong guy.

Alfie Allen (Game of Thrones) may be getting type cast at the moment with playing creeps but he does it so well. A snarly little toe rag in desperate need of a slap or two.

The mystery surrounding Wick and his past are never really explained or explored. It’s infuriating in one instance but great in another. I loved the respect and code of honour among the gangsters and assassins in this seemingly ruthless and cutthroat business.

Michael Nyqvist (The original Girl With The Dragon Tattoo) was superb. A perfect adversary to Wick. His reaction when his son informs him that he has stolen from Wick. Fear, terror and anger.

The build up was just right. The gangsters preparing for battle. Wick breaking up a hidden briefcase with gold and guns under his concrete floor. You know. The usual.

The gold? Some strange currency that the assassins pay each other off with. Baffling. A gold coin here and there. No questions asked.

I like to have everything resolved. It’s not as if everything wasn’t self explanatory. BUT I wanted to know more about the underbelly and society that Wick desperately tried to escape. Not bad for a shoot em up. I actually wanted to know more about the story.

The hotel was an interesting set up. It added an extra dimension to something that should have been a bog standard actioner. The establishment even has rules. No killing without cause or authority. Mental.

There was quite a good supporting cast. Shame that some weren’t really used to their full potential. Adrianne Palicki (Friday Night Lights) was stunning as the sultry assassin out to break said rules. Ian McShane (Deadwood) was pretty much Ian McShane but played the hotel owner Winston with aplomb. I wanted more of him. Scene stealing at every chance.

John Leguizamo and Lance Reddick (Fringe) were reduced to small roles. They did their best with the parts. Reddick with his stern prowess as The Hotel Manager being a particular highlight.

Considering Reeves is 50, he can still kick an ass or two. Not quite ready for the Expendables scrap heap yet. If a Matrix reboot (Because let’s be honest, it’s only a matter of time) was ever on the cards, he could still do it.

The fight sequences were fast, frantic and furious. If a little repetitive. There are so many hand gun combinations you can do in a fight scene without them being flat out ridiculous or just tedious.

It was a lot better than I expected. Violent, brutal and mental in one instance. Mysterious and intriguing the next. The pace may dither in parts and the end result was always going to be a predictable one but I can certainly commend the writers for trying to do something a little different or at least make it worth watching.

3/5