NOT long into director Eli Roth’s icky, spectacularly ill-timed remake of the 1974 Charles Bronson shocker and you might be wondering why on earth it needed to be made.

Bruce Willis stars as Paul Kersey, a surgeon and devoted family man, husband to loving wife Lucy (Elizabeth Shue, who deserves a whole lot better than the material she’s given here) and college-ready daughter Jordan (Camila Morrone), living a normal and peaceful life in the Chicago suburbs.

However, his world comes crashing down when a group of violent burglars break into his home and terrorise and eventually shoot his family, leaving his wife dead and daughter in a coma.

As time passes the police seem incapable of catching the culprits, so Paul takes the law into his own hands and becomes a vigilante intent on getting revenge and cleaning up the streets. But his inexperience with guns leads to some rookie mistakes that start to put him under the spotlight of suspicion.

The original film is not exactly a masterpiece, but at least it had a semblance of grit and grungy boldness.

This retelling for a modern age, when the right to gun ownership is a particularly hot topic in America, has none of those saving graces. It’s offensive and immaturely pleased with itself for daring to show truly unpleasant violence but manages to present its argument in a weirdly muted way that fails to persuade the audience that it’s worth caring about.

The film pushes the idea from the gun-toting right that almost anything is acceptable if it protects what’s yours, but does little to encourage an actual debate beyond some weak-willed scenes in which real-life radio hosts pose the question of whether Paul – just one in a long line of roles that sees Willis on autopilot – is justified in his actions.

It sends out mixed messages, on the one hand emphasising that Paul is grief-stricken while breaking the law with an unlicensed gun but also gleefully celebrating the fact that he’s taking justice into his own hands.

But neither its heart nor mind is interested in exploring any of the moral dilemmas posed.

For modern vigilante stories that do wrestle intriguingly with such quandaries, check out The Brave One and Death Sentence.

It’s bad enough that Death Wish contains no new ideas and, given its ambition to be an action blockbuster, no thrills.

But given recent grim events in America, it’s crass, cynical and devoid of merit.