Death Wish remake plans have moved back to the fast track thanks to the hiring of director Gerardo Naranjo, who will be replacing Joe Carnahan, Variety reported on Friday.
Naranjo captured MGM and Paramount’s attention for his work on The Mountains Between Us and Miss Bala. For a project that once had Sylvester Stallone’s interest, according to Stallone himself on Ain’t It Cool News, this is a high-profile jump for Naranjo.
Carnahan (The Grey, The A-Team) dropped out last week because he could not find an actor to step into the role popularized by Charles Bronson in the five-film series, which began with 1974’s smash hit Death Wish.
According to Variety, Carnahan and MGM had previously asked actors Brad Pitt, Will Smith, and Bruce Willis to consider the project.
(Not mentioned was Jason Statham, who starred as the Bronson character in the recent remake of The Mechanic. Bullet dodged, though the other actors aren’t exactly Bronson material either.)
The plot of the film centered on Paul Kersey (Bronson), a left-wing architect, who turns to vigilantism when his wife and daughter are brutalized by a gang of street thugs.
Carnahan’s take was said to be a straight adaptation of the 1972 Brian Garfield novel rather than a shot-for-shot remake of Bronson and director Michael Winner’s earlier effort.
Garfield’s crime fiction has never been given a faithful adaptation, though the author was reportedly more satisfied with 2007’s Death Sentence, IMDb noted.
Kevin Bacon stepped into the lead for Death Sentence, which Garfield had written as a sequel to Death Wish.
(In the film world, Death Wish and Death Sentence were unrelated, however, and quite different from their literary counterparts.)
That same year Jodie Foster played lead in The Brave One, a film that lifted the plot and some scenes directly from the 1974 film. Foster had more commercial success with the concept grossing close to $70 million against $17 million for Bacon’s film, according to Box Office Mojo.
That leaves the question when it comes to casting: should Naranjo try to find someone like Bronson for the part, or should he play it safe for the younger crowd and go with a “modern” looking action star like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson?
How would you cast the part, and is the new Death Wish remake director a thumbs-up or -down pick?