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A remake for our time: “Death Wish,” starring Bruce Willis

To cleanse the palate. Between this and that alt-history show about the Confederacy that’s coming to HBO, the Internet should be able to meet its hot-take quotas through the year 2035 or so.

In fact, the hot takes have already begun.

“Death Wish” is a smart choice for a reboot in the era of Trump. Race relations are poor, fears of crime are up, and a politically incorrect city guy is ready to break sh*t in the name of making America great again. The tone and casting are all wrong, though, if the goal is to recapture the siege mentality of the Bronson movie. The point of the original “Death Wish” was that a law-abiding nebbish could plausibly be driven to homicidal vengeance by the sheer volume of violent scumbags plaguing civil society. Paul Kersey was pushed to the brink and over it by criminals preying on his wife and daughter. You don’t cast hyper-competent action-hero alpha male Bruce Willis in a role like that; you cast someone like Jesse Eisenberg or Jake Gyllenhaal, an average guy conditioned towards passivity who’s forced to empower himself to cope with the threats around him. “Death Wish” is supposed to be harrowing. Does this trailer feel harrowing? Or does it feel like a pretext for Willis to do his usual “Die Hard” thing, beating the piss out of villains for whatever reason?

“Back in Black” is a particularly bad choice. That’s music to strut to, something you’d hear in a paint-by-numbers action-hero flick because you know the star’s in total control of his environment and won’t break a sweat in bending it to his supremely confident will. “Death Wish” is the opposite of that. The film’s atmosphere should be humid with anxiety. Not to get too hot take-y myself, but the difference between this and the original feels like the difference between Hollywood 1974 and Hollywood today. Then, even a Charles Bronson shoot-em-up aspired to cultural commentary. Now, it’s hard rock and superheroes all the way down.

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