Joe Carnahan Updates On Death Wish

It's a return to the novel... sort of

It's just a couple of days since the announcement that, hot from The Grey's establishing itself as alpha at the box office, director Joe Carnahan was in the frame for a new version of Death Wish. There was no actual word from Carnahan at that point, but he's now taken to his Twitter account to share some thoughts on his approach to the hoary Charles Bronson pseudo-classic.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the line taken is that Carnahan is returning to Brian Garfield's original novel for inspiration. First published in 1972, the book actually revolves around an accountant named Paul Benjamin, rather than an architect called Paul Kersey, and is rather more ambivalent about its violent 'hero'.

Michael Winner's film version - which had passed through the hands of Sidney Lumet and Jack Lemmon on its way to the screen - eventually took the path of scuzzy exploitation, and was much disliked by Garfield. While the films went their own way, Garfield wrote his own sequel in 1975; Death Sentence was loosely adapted by James Wan in 2007, with Kevin Bacon.

"I'm doing Death Wish," Carnahan confirms, "but this version is a re-imagining of the book." Fundamentally, by reimagining, he seems to principally mean relocation. "It's set in present-day Los Angeles: the LA of Collateral. It's on buses, cabs, metro trains. I want to show an unseen version of LA: LA on foot, prowling, hunting, the vast emptiness of downtown... Nicholas Winding Refn did a phenomenal job shooting LA [with Drive]. It took on a different dimension. That's the key."

Carnahan says he's writing a part specifically for The Grey's Frank Grillo - "The one time I've ever written exclusively for an actor" - but later clarified that it isn't the Bronson role. He also insists that Killing Pablo, his biopic of the Colombian drugs kingpin Pablo Escobar based on Mark Bowden's bestseller, is still very much a going concern: "It's basically greenlit. Nothing is postponed. Killing Pablo is happening. I'm not letting that one slip away."

If "nothing is postponed", it looks like we can expect Killing Pablo first. In the meantime, watch this space for more Death Wish updates.