Wrath of Man (2021)
Wrath of Man (2021)

Genre: Action and Heist Running Time: 1 hr. 58 min.

Release Date: May 7th, 2021 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Guy Ritchie Actors: Jason Statham, Holt McCallany, Josh Hartnett, Jeffrey Donovan, Scott Eastwood, Andy Garcia, Eddie Marsan, Niamh Algar

 


 

A

cement mixer veers to block an armored car in the road – a purposeful component of a heist, which further involves heavy weaponry, masked men, sacks of money, and an escape vehicle (as well as plenty of panicky expletives). It’s a decent opening sequence, not exactly introducing any specific characters, but setting the stage for a competent blend of tension, effective documentary-style editing, and ominous music (a strikingly appropriate score by Christopher Benstead). The story proper involves Patrick Hill, or “H” (Jason Statham), applying for a security job with Fortico in Los Angeles, where he’ll be in charge of an armored car that will undoubtedly be subject to great danger – such as the kind earmarked in that cold open.

Interviewer Terry (Eddie Marsan) warns of the possibility of harm or death, while trainer “Bullet” (Holt McCallany) oversees tests such as shooting and driving, which H just barely passes. And then the newcomer meets with partners and coworkers Hollow Bob (Rocci Williams), Boy Sweat Dave (Josh Hartnett), and Sticky John – just a few of a melange of comically-nicknamed, creative-insult-spewing, suspiciously unfriendly fellows. But every one of the group has a dark past – and H just might have the darkest past of the bunch, giving him a special sort of motivation to go along with a special set of skills.

“Do you have any idea how dangerous the job can be?” Expectedly, it’s not long before hostages are taken, bags of cash are negotiated over, and brains are splattered on the pavement; protocols for such situations are quickly thrown out the window, since Statham is an unflinching, remorseless, seemingly bulletproof, no-nonsense man-of-action. It’s certainly not original – especially for this leading man – but it’s nevertheless engaging; watching a somewhat superhuman warrior laying waste to unambiguous baddies has its entertainment value. The cold, emotionless schtick wears thin, however; it’s difficult to fully get behind such a one-dimensional protagonist. “I’m starting to think he’s a psychopath.”

To mix things up, the film is divided by chapter titles, while also jumping around in time spans – and even skipping back and forth between chronological scenes – as well as arranged to show the same sequences from differing perspectives (with added details). It’s unnecessarily convoluted – as if wishing to be a twisty mystery – considering the revelations from various backtrack episodes aren’t exactly wild surprises. In fact, the unearthed catalyst for H’s actions are perhaps the most generic of any conceivable influence – the premise here is about as commonplace as it gets. And H’s brutal methods for getting to the bottom of those who wronged him are so unyieldingly violent that they only further push him away from being the inspirational, fun sort of hero; he’s the antithesis of a 007 adventurer.

Writer/director Guy Ritchie, reworking the plot of a French thriller, crafts a decidedly different film from his previous efforts. Most notable is the seriousness; there’s virtually no comic relief to break up the severity of heists and associated violence. Absent are the quirky, rapid-fire dialogue and the equally odd, idiosyncratic characters that typically pepper his pieces. They’re so glaringly missing, in fact, that it’s intermittently challenging to enjoy the revenge fantasy. But what he does get right is in making the villains even more unfeeling and barbaric than H, allowing for a spectacularly intense, protracted final showdown brimming with limitless-ammunition gunplay (the sound effects are jolting), detailed plans that go awry, and extensive bloodshed. Despite the sometimes overbearing trek to get to the finale, the climax is absolutely riveting – an appalling yet exciting dance of death and destruction (even if it’s familiarly filled with routine double-crosses, triple-crosses, and other labyrinthine confrontations). The heisting in this picture is in top form. “This is not your money!”

– Mike Massie

  • 6/10