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‘Death Wish’ updated with more guns, cell phones and revenge ( Movie Review )

All the violent scenes have been completely reconceived, made more elaborate and more effective as directed by Eli Roth, though he twice indulges his tendency to overdo it. (One case involves brains splattering — but it’s probably less than a second of screen time. Perhaps you’ll blink and miss it.) Yet in another way, this “Death Wish” goes a little easy on audiences, in that the consequences of the original crime are not quite as lasting or dispiriting as before. The movie consoles as it thrills, by falling into the familiar pattern of an action film, and familiar patterns are comforting.

This isn’t a criticism, just an acknowledgment of the movie’s lack of ultimate ambition. But it has all the ambition it needs. This “Death Wish” can’t be “Death Wish” (1974). The 1974 film meant something to audiences that the new movie will never mean to us. Still, Willis is a worthy replacement for Bronson, and it can be safely said: This new movie is way better than all the “Death Wish” sequels that Bronson kept churning out, the last when he was 72.

Indeed, “Death Wish” is easily the second best “Death Wish” movie ever made, and not a distant second.

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