The Los Angeles Times (we read it so you don’t have to) is reporting that “The Grey” director, Joe Carnahan, is attached to write and direct a remake of Charles Bronson’s vigilante classic.
As chance would have it, less than 12 hours ago, I watched a documentary looking back on the “Dirty Harry” films where Carnahan said, and I am paraphrasing, “I’m liberal on a lot of things but very much a law and order right-winger.”
That’s all well and good, but I doubt present-day Hollywood has the maturity to tell this story with the same courage of conviction we saw in director Michael Winner’s 1974 genre-masterpiece. For starters, Paul Kersey’s (The Mighty Charles Bronson) vigilantism is shown to work and is portrayed as a solution to a serious crime problem the ineffectual police and liberal courts can’t solve. For emphasis, there’s a wonderful scene where we see how Kersey’s actions inspire everyday people to finally fight back.
Secondly, the Kersey character (a conscientious objector during the Korean War) is made to see up close and personal the cost of his limousine liberalism and haughty pacifism. Intolerant Hollywood giving a character that kind of arc today is inconceivable. In films like the superb 2007 remake of “The Hills Have Eyes,” we’ve seen it. But if you listen to the director’s DVD commentary, you learn it was by accident.
Finally, this first entry in what would become a fantastic five film franchise isn’t like its sequels. Here, Kersey isn’t exacting revenge on the same punks who blew a hole in his family. He’s simply working through his grief and refusing to be a victim through the awesome act of cleaning up the streets and, in the end, he is not at all repentant for his actions.
It’s very hard for me to see today’s immature industry allowing the very thematic elements that made the original (and its sequels) so satisfying to shine through again. My guess is that Carnahan goes back to the original novel, which portrays vigilantism as a more serious problem than the crime it’s meant to solve. That will give all involved the cover necessary to completely screw the remake up.
If you want to see an unapologetic “remake” of “Death Wish,” check out The Mighty Michael Caine’s almost-as-good but just as satisfying “Harry Brown.”
Note to leftists: In real life, I obviously oppose vigilantism. But this is a movie were talking about, and what I am not opposed to is wish-fulfillment or being manipulated by a crowd pleaser.