Eli Roth is ready to make a 'Death Wish' with Bruce Willis
And why not? If anything, the property seems more timely than ever. Joe Carnahan was on board as writer/director for a while, and then it looked like Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado were set to direct it. Today, it’s being reported that Eli Roth is now set to direct from a script by Scott Alexander & Larry Karaszewski, working from Carnahan’s earlier drafts, with Bruce Willis still attached to star.
The big winner here is Roth. I thought his last film Knock Knock demonstrated some growth from him as a filmmaker, and knowing that he’s going to be starting with a script that’s been worked on by writers as good as Carnahan and Alexander & Karaszewski is encouraging. What I’m really curious about is how he gets along with Willis. I assume they have to have met already to see if there’s a rapport that they’ll be able to find. The reason Keshales and Papushado left the film is because their ideas were in opposition to some of Willis’s ideas. Willis has never had a reputation for being particularly easy to work with, but everything I’ve heard from his former collaborators indicates that he tests filmmakers up front. One of Roth’s strongest qualities as a person is that he seems absolutely fearless, and that’s what it takes to jump in and direct someone like Willis. You can’t be nervous about your own ideas or scared to ask your actor to do something.
I’m curious to see how they handle this one. The original 1974 Death Wish film depended on a creeping social anxiety in order to work, and we’ve got more creeping social anxiety than we know what to do with these days. Looking at this year’s campaign for the Presidency, it’s like some weird nightmare about all the worst versions of America spilling out into waking life, and more than anything, it speaks to what scares us right now. If Death Wish is able to tap all the fears that are driving us right now, then it may well turn into a real sensation. Roth was attached to the giant shark movie Meg but recently left the film, and I think this feels like a better fit for him. Roth’s best work is drawn directly from his own fears, with Hostel as the best example of that so far. Even though Death Wish isn’t an original script by him, I can imagine that he’s feeling the same fears and frustrations as the rest of us right now, and it almost doesn’t matter which side of things you’re on. You can be pro or con gun control and still get pulled into a story about vigilante justice for emotional reasons.
We’ll see how it all comes together when Death Wish is released. For now, there’s no release date.