WRATH OF MAN review by Mark Walters – Jason Statham & Guy Ritchie reunite for a revenge thriller

WRATH OF MAN review by Mark Walters – Jason Statham & Guy Ritchie reunite for a revenge thriller

WRATH OF MAN reunites director Guy Ritchie with actor Jason Statham for a gritty revenge thriller. The two previously worked together on films like LOCK, STOCK AND TWO SMOKING BARRELLS, SNATCH, REVOLVER, and apparently they’re already working on another upcoming project. While it’s nice to see Statham back on the big screen, and working with someone of Ritchie’s impressive caliber, this is hardly the best work for either one of these men.

The film opens with an armored car robbery, shot from the back of the vehicle in a chaotic and confusing style. This will be the first time we see this robbery take place, but certainly not the last as the film carries on. A man nicknamed “H” (Statham) joins the work force of the armored car company in town, receiving training by Bullet (Holt McCallany), and mingling with the various crew like Boy Sweat Dave (Josh Hartnett), Dana (Niamh Algar), and others. We learn that the team working for this company is close and comfy, and at first they find H to be a stuffy addition to their ranks. Then an attempted heist happens, and H shows how tough and protective he can be. Within a very short period, this mysterious new recruit moves up in the ranks and commands respect… but he has another agenda, to find those responsible for the heist we witnessed in the beginning… a heist that left his son dead. Now, if that was the entire story, it would have been enough for this kind of film, but instead the script goes in several more directions, and reveals many more characters and plot points the audience must keep up with. It’s also hard to talk about without getting into spoiler territory. For example, Statham’s character is not what you think he is, there’s much more to his back story that isn’t revealed until about halfway through the film, and the “bad guys” of the story aren’t fully revealed until that last 30 minutes or so, and their motivations are kind of lazy and not very smart. This all plays out while we see sort of RASHOMON-style alternate perspectives of the initial heist that fueled the story, each time revealing just a tiny bit more about that event. In all honesty, you could safely call the story convoluted, even if it is fairly entertaining.

While we’ve seen Statham play the strong silent type before, here it’s made more personal, though once his true character is revealed, it’s hard to completely sympathize with his anger considering his questionable background. This is a movie with very few “good” guys, and a few really bad ones that aren’t quite clear until the final act. I like Statham, but I kept waiting for him to let loose and really go nuts with his revenge here, and sadly it never quite happens. And some of the other cast members aren’t handled well either. Niamh Algar plays a guard who has a somewhat sordid past, but is someone who could easily have found a redemptive story arc… and sadly, she doesn’t. And Josh Hartnett, who I think many were excited to see popping up in another big screen film, is severely underused and in many ways wasted by the end – if you’re going to this movie hoping to see a lot of him, you’ll be disappointed. Even Andy Garcia pops up playing a somewhat throwaway role, and a character that easily could have had more back story. Jeffrey Donovan and Scott Eastwood play rather interesting characters who also sadly aren’t given much room to breathe in the sometimes complex screenplay by Guy Ritchie, Marn Davies, and Ivan Atkinson. There is nothing wrong with this cast, but what they’re given to work with feels sloppy. And no one is safe here, like NO ONE. There’s even an unusual cameo by rapper Post Malone as a random robber who gets offed within minutes of appearing. People are killed brutally and at a quick pace that almost feels outright mean at some points. I realize this is meant to be a gritty crime thriller, but some characters just die (at times just off screen too!) in a way that seems undeserved and lethargic. Why develop them at all if they’re just going to perish quickly and be forgotten?

While I like most of Guy Ritchie’s films, I was also surprised at how little this movie felt like his work, visually at least. There aren’t a lot of stylish scenes, or anything you’d typically expect to see from him. The action sequences are intense and shot well, but the rest of the film feels (at times) tedious and a bit plodding. The biggest problem with WRATH OF MAN is that we keep waiting for that big revenge bloodbath, and it never really comes. I mean yeah, Statham does kill people, and there is carnage throughout, but watching the film is like watching an orchestra play the 1812 Overture and not delivering the big finish with the canons. It’s also a little too complex for its own good. Some of the best revenge thrillers like this are the ones that have a straightforward simple story. WRATH OF MAN is so layered that at times it feels hard to keep up with, not what you might expect based on how the trailers are selling it. I feel like there was an interesting idea here that just didn’t gel in the end. What’s there is entertaining, but ultimately disposable, and it pains me to say that as a fan of both Ritchie and Statham. This very likely will not be remembered as a strong effort for anyone involved, but might still satisfy more forgiving fans of the revenge movie genre.

WRATH OF MAN is rated R for strong violence throughout, pervasive language, and some sexual references.

WRATH OF MAN opens May 7, 2021

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About the Author

Born and raised in Dallas, Mark has been a movie critic since 1994, with reviews featured in print, radio and National TV. In 2001 he started the Entertainment section of the Herorealm website, where he contributed film reviews and celebrity interviews until 2004. After three years of service there, he started Bigfanboy.com, which has become one of the Dallas film community's leading information websites. Bigfanboy hosts several movie screenings in the Texas area, and works closely with film and TV studios and promotional partners to host exciting events and contests. The site also features a variety of rare celebrity and filmmaker interviews, and Bigfanboy.com regularly covers the film festival circuit as well. In addition to Hollywood reporting, Mark has worked for many years as an advertising and sci-fi/comic book artist. Clients have included Lucasfilm Ltd., Topps Trading Cards, The Dallas Mavericks and The Dallas Stars. From 2002 until 2015 he managed the Dallas Comic Con, Sci-Fi Expo and Fan Days events in the DFW area. He currently catalogs rare comic books and movie memorabilia for Heritage Auctions, and runs the Dallas Comic Show conventions, but remains an avid moviegoer and cinema buff.