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'Death Wish' Director Eli Roth Responds to Critics of Controversial Remake

Stephen Andrew

03/05/2018

Eli Roth, director of the newly released Death Wish remake, has now responded to critics of the controversial film.

“I wanted to really make it about family, and stick to the central issue of what would you do if this happened to your family,” Roth told reporters. “The movie for me really is about family and protecting your family and what do you do when you can’t get justice for your family?"

Death Wish is a remake of a 1974 film, by the same title, that starred action movie icon Charles Bronson. That film birthed a franchise that saw the actor go on to star in four sequels.

The new film is about a Chicago doctor (Bruce Willis as Paul Kersey) who becomes a ruthless vigilante when his wife is killed and his daughter brutally attacked by home invaders.

Many critics of the film have taken issue with what they see as a glorification of gun violence at a time when tragedies like the recent Parkland, Florida high school shooting are happening, according to EW.

“It’s not pro-gun,” Roth added in his statement about the film. “What I really try to do more than anything is show it how it really is, and leave it for the audience to decide.”

Coincidentally, a press day was scheduled for the film on Feb. 15, which was only one day after the aforementioned high school shooting. It was ultimately canceled.

“With any tragedy, your heart goes out to the victims, first and foremost,” said Roth at the time. “I think the release is going to be the release, but you’re not going to go out front and center the day after talking about a movie like Death Wish. It just felt like that wasn’t the right time.”

When asked why Death Wish was a film that merited a remake in the first place, Roth responded, "I asked the same question.”

“The answer is, for me, so many of the same problems that were plaguing the country — that crime is out of control and police are overwhelmed and there’s no way to stop it — still feel very relevant today. It feels like however far we’ve gone in other areas, we have not progressed in terms of crime,” he added.

As EW notes, however, while Roth "feels" as if crime is out of control, the research data available on crime in the U.S. suggests otherwise, with the violent crime rate hitting a record 27-year low in 2017.

Before the Death Wish remake even landed in theaters there were already many who were critical of the film, perceiving it as a pro-gun. Roth responded to those critics as well.

“When people watch a trailer, they’re judging based on two-and-a-half minutes of material, and if it’s Bruce Willis shooting a gun, cut to AC/DC, some people are going to draw that conclusion. What I really try to do more than anything is show it how it really is, and leave it for the audience to decide,” Roth said.

“One thing I’m very conscious of as a filmmaker in Hollywood is not telling the audience what to think, or how to think, and you can make the same argument about John Wick or Taken. Any action movie you can say is a pro-gun movie. It’s giving a story that allows people to discuss a difficult subject. In the same way Get Out came out, everyone was allowed to discuss race and racism because of the movie,” the director concluded.

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