Remake of Un justicier dans la ville (1974) with Charles Bronson and freely adapted from the novel “Death Wish” by Brian Garfield, Eli Roth’s Death Wish is a long-standing project. It was in 2006 that the feature film, released in 2018 in French theaters, was mentioned for the first time.
At this time, Sylvester Stallone is tipped to play the main character, but the actor quickly gives up for artistic differences. He wants, in particular, that the hero is an honest policeman with an impressive track record, and not an ordinary man caught in a spiral of violence.
In 2012, the project resurfaced with Joe Carnahan directing as well as Liam Neeson and Frank Grillo (with whom he just worked on The Land of Wolves) casting. But the filmmaker leaves the ship for several disagreements with Paramount (such as the fact that the studio wants to hire Bruce Willis).
Gerardo Naranjo (Miss Bala) replaces him, having in mind Benicio Del Toro in the main role, which refuses, resulting in the departure of the director. Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado (Big Bad Wolves) are then announced, but in turn withdraw … And it is Eli Roth who is finally chosen.
During this long production process, the actors considered to slip into the skin of the hero of Death Wish are, in addition to Neeson and Del Toro, Russell Crowe, Matt Damon, Will Smith and Brad Pitt.
Joe Carnahan, who had signed a first draft of the script, said at the end of 2016: “I think they got exactly what they wanted, and that wasn’t what interested me.”
The director had also specified, at the same time, that he intended to revise his script to make it a more personal film: “A lot of the movie was set in Los Angeles. It was much closer to Michael Mann than a movie with Charles Bronson. “
Upon its release, Death Wish gets bad reviews: the predictable plot, the lack of originality in the realization and the monolithic game of Bruce Willis are singled out. The feature film also brings in 48 million dollars in worldwide revenues for a budget of 30, which is correct, but nothing more.