*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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*NEW* ROOM REVIEW *NEW*

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Make room in your busy schedules for this brilliantly acted little drama.

After five-year-old Jack (Jacob Tremblay) and his mother (Brie Larson) escape from the enclosed surroundings that Jack has known his entire life, the boy makes a thrilling discovery.

Two fantastic performances makes this one to watch. Adapted from the bestselling Emma Donoghue novel. This is definitely going onto my reading list.

The first act allowed for a slow burning but intriguing look into Jack and Joy’s captivity. It was an interesting watch from Jack’s perspective. It takes a lot for a child actor to make a memorable impression. Especially when they are at the forefront of the piece. Tremblay was excellent.

We follow Jack as he makes the best of his confined childhood. While Joy does everything she can to keep the lie. That they are trapped in Room because of the aliens outside. BUT Jack’s inquisitiveness and energy keeps growing by the day. The more questions he asks, the harder it gets for Joy to keep the act. Things picked up when Jack wondered where the food was coming from.

Sean Bridgers delivered a sinister supporting turn as Old Nick. He really was a piece of work. Poor Jack is forced to count in his wardrobe while Nick shows his appreciation to Joy. It would would have been a little creepier if his face wasn’t revealed so early. It added much more suspense when we only see him through the slits in Jack’s wardrobe. His face concealed. A voice and a shadow.

Larson (Short Term 12) was excellent as Joy. Struggling to lie any more, she tells Jack the truth. Tremblay captured the confusion perfectly. Unable what to grasp what was real after believing TV was the source of everything via magic. His fascination with a mouse and Joy’s rash decision to remove it was the tipping point.

The middle act was nail biting as Joy decides to play a trick on Old Nick. The escape was tense and suspenseful. The only problem was that after such a riveting sequence, the second half seemed to simmer away. The pace was a tad slow. As much as it was an interesting transition watching the pair adapt to life outside of Room, there were moments where I could feel my eyes wondering to my watch.

Larson and Tremblay’s chemistry really carried it to the last hurdle. BUT there wasn’t as much as drama as I’d hoped. William H. Macy’s (Fargo) character wasn’t in this enough. After a touching reunion, he was largely absent. Shame. There was plenty of room for conflict as he refused to acknowledge Jack.

Wendy Crewson (The Vow) was wasted in her minor cameo as the talk show hostess. The interview may have been a subtle attack on Joy’s choices while in Room BUT it didn’t quite deliver. You certainly felt for Joy as she desperately fought back the tears.

Jack’s transformation was watchable as he had to adjust to the big wide world as well as more rooms! Stairs, dogs, all the little things you take for granted. You really hoped that he would be able to adapt. Made to wear sunglasses, sun tan lotion and a dust mask to get used to the natural sunlight and build an immunity against the germs outside.

Joy’s transformation was something else. Larson really captured Joy’s frustration and anger. Superb. You realise that Jack may not be the one to worry about. Joan Allen’s (The Bourne Supremacy/Ultimatum) Grandma initially was a little weak. Thankfully her character got to shine in the closing act and some nice moments.

You weren’t sure how their story was going to end. Making for an emotional and heart rending finale. An endearing and engaging drama. Hype may have been a little much and the pace may have been patchy BUT two brilliant performances and a wonderful relationship makes this one to watch.

3.5/5