What: The first trailer for a forthcoming remake of Reagan-era vigilante flick, Death Wish.
Who: Filmmaker Eli Roth and star Bruce Willis.
Why we care: While watching this trailer, I experienced a moment like The Usual Suspects detective dropping his coffee mug as he realizes he just let Keyser Soze go. It was the moment I realized Eli Roth, whose work I’ve enjoyed, may secretly be a member of the alt right, whose work I have not.
First, there were the Hostel movies and Green Inferno. These can be nasty fun as a litmus test for one’s gore-withstanding threshold, but they also promote the idea of hostile foreigners hell-bent on torturing Americans. Combine that xenophobic concept with the fact that Roth intended Green Inferno partly as a rebuke to “social justice warriors,” and he might as well change the logo of his production company to Pepe the Frog. Some of this interpretation had crossed my mind before, but it never fully gelled until I saw the trailer for Death Wish moments ago.
As a piece of agitprop for Second Amendment avengers, the Death Wish trailer is about as inflammatory as that bonkers NRA ad from late June. For one thing, Eli Roth has moved the vigilante tale to Chicago–the original was set in New York–aligning with one of Donald Trump’s favorite talking points. Mainly, though, the trailer makes it look like the only way to reduce gun violence is not firmer regulation but arming every citizen and also teaching them how to orchestrate grand Guignol bloodbaths against criminal mechanics.
The gun violence in Chicago is real, and it’s a problem. Reducing it to something that can be solved with cartoonish Bruce Willis ass-kickery is a problem in its own right.