Directors Depart DEATH WISH Remake

Written by Andrew Marshall Friday, 06 May 2016

Movie News

The seemingly tainted Bruce Willis-starring remake of 1970s vengeance flick Death Wish has been dealt another setback with the loss of its director team of Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado.

The departing pair are the Israeli writer-directors of the phenomenal greyscale morality thriller Big Bad Wolves, a film with thematic similarities to Death Wish and was likely part of the reason they were tapped to helm the remake. While the reason cited for their exit was the standard ‘creative differences’, for once we’ve been given some elaboration on the precise issues courtesy of a social media post by Keshales translated from Hebrew:

Relief. Finally a bit of breathing room. You probably remember that a few months ago we were bombarded with greetings and congratulations on receiving our first Hollywood job, Death Wish. You might also remember that Navot and I insisted not to comment on the story or on any of your excited posts about it, not even with a “like”.

It’s not like we became snobs overnight. And it’s not like anybody prevented us from speaking out, it’s just that we found ourselves in a terrible situation. On the one hand, we were indeed offered a dream job, we were indeed offered a legendary salary, and we did indeed pass a stressful and amazing audition with the presidents of MGM and Paramount, and we even met and got the approval of one of the toughest most intimidating stars in Hollywood… Yes, Bruce Willis himself saw Big Bad Wolves and thought we were the right people for this violent mission.

On the other hand, the news caught us by surprise, because in reality there were huge differences between our vision and the vision of the studio with the famous roaring lion. We wanted to stay away from the original and problematic (albeit fun to watch) Michael Winner film, and move more towards the spirit of the original novel by Brian Garfield – an excellent minimalist novel that never got the cinematic treatment it deserved. We wanted to follow the vision of the director who originally was set to make it, but ultimately was not allowed to: Sidney Lumet. Lumet wanted to direct a film about a simple man, he even thought of Jack Lemmon for the lead, who experiences a terrible tragedy and then falls to the depths of hell. When we imagined the thriller in our minds we thought Taxi Driver, Falling Down… with a bloodcurdling finale like Sicario.

Unfortunately, the timetable for the project did not allow us to make the big changes we wanted to make to the script, and as time passed we realized that we were not going to get what we wanted for this project.

Last night, after long deliberations we finally decided to leave the project.

It was not easy.

To know that you’re giving up money, fame, the opportunity to work with a big star, that you’re kicking the door in Hollywood’s face, knowing that you’re disappointing everybody who supported and encouraged you and wanted you to fulfil your dreams – All this can really mess with your head and make you doubt yourself. And so it did. But anybody who knows us even for a minute, knows that we’ve never compromised on our vision.

These were three gruelling months, three months during which time I walked around wearing sunglasses because I was afraid to answer uncomfortable questions.

Today I can finally take them off and say thank you for your support, your embrace and all the love.

So what now?

A little peace and quiet, a lot of patience and above all, love.

While it’s disappointing that we’ll now never get to see what the film would have looked like in the hands of two proven talents, we can rest assured that when the pair do decide to make their English-language debut it will be on their own terms and subsequently will be something to behold.

Directed by Michael Winner in 1974, the original Death Wish starred Charles Bronson as an architect who, after the murder of his wife and rape of his daughter, begins prowling the nocturnal streets of New York in search of violent criminals to execute in vigilante justice.

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