Wrath of Man Review
A muted Guy Ritchie creates an intriguing, but at times cheesy, revenge-heist hybrid.
H (Jason Statham) is fresh to the cash truck company. Taken under the wing of Bullet (Holt McCallany), he quickly learns the ropes, but when he, Bullet and Boy Sweat Dave (Josh Hartnett) get hit by a crew, it seems like it could all be over. That is, until H single handedly dispatches the entire criminal gang, with the cool, effortless precision of a man with a secret. His capability belies his secret identity; that of an underworld mob boss, on the hunt for the gang who killed his son. And he’ll stop at nothing to punish those responsible.
Coming out of Wrath of Man, one might be forgiven for being shocked that the picture was directed by the famous Guy Ritchie. The auteur behind Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch, and even more recently The Gentleman and King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, is known for his visual flair. His movies are typical British gangster crime capers, even if occasionally transported to other nationalities or time periods. They have fast talking heroes, heist planning scenes intercut with the actual heist taking place, and a hell of a lot of swearing, killing and blood. They also frequently have fast, visual flair.
Wrath of Man somewhat bucks this trend. Told in an almost Vantage Point-esque multi-view perspective, this triptych covers a lot of the same ground from different perspectives. All the while, we are given more and more backstory about H (Jason Statham). H is cold and mysterious, but also clearly a man driven by revenge. Whereas one might expect him to be the typical British, fast-talking Guy Ritchie hero, Statham plays him with a distinct sense of purpose. He is cold; calculating. Hellbent on avenging his murdered son.
It’s a pacing turn that is mirrored in the cinematography. The shots on display here have no whip pan, no real motion blur. They are slow and purposeful, pushing in ever so slowly on scenes arranged like paintings.
The acting from the supporting cast is, much like the script, pretty rough. All cliches, forced banter and terrible decisions, the actors struggle with the material they are given. That being said, there are a few standouts. Scott Eastwood plays a great villain, truly reprehensible. Jason Statham is a lot of fun to watch, particularly in the confrontational bar scene, or any of the scenes where he is shooting people. But it’s a role we have seen him do a million times, so that isn’t particularly surprising.
In the end, the set design, cinematography and the core serviceable plot (anchored by Statham) make this a serviceable film. It’s just a shame that more of the flair that made Ritchie’s early work, and even the hugely popular recent entry The Gentleman, so good wasn’t on display here - such flair could have elevated a forgettable action drama to a must see.
Fun enough to watch, but forgettable actioner from Ritchie and Statham.