Wrath of Man
Jason Statham, Josh Hartnett, Scott Eastwood, Niamh Algar, Andy Garcia, Eddie Marsan, Holt McCallany
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…Wrath Of Meh, more like.
A little over a year after making his triumphant return to the fundamentals with The Gentlemen, Guy Ritchie has teamed up once again with Gentlemen co-writers Ivan Atkinson and Marn Davies to tap into the Brit-hard mannerisms that have coloured the bulk of his career to date. His decision to remake a European film raises some eyebrows (seeing as his last attempt with Swept Away is best left forgotten), but by bringing back one of his earliest collaborators in hard-arse Jason Statham, the film looks to be fun, if not all that substantive. Well, that’d be half-right.
The dialogue is still quintessentially Ritchie, particularly during the first act, where the quips are so adamant at appearing aloof and hard-nosed that it can be hard to tell if we’re supposed to be laughing or not (to the point where the film itself has to point out that it doesn’t always make sense). Initially, it’s entertaining in a decidedly pulpy fashion, but it does come to a screeching stop, and the narrative at large is also quite rudimentary.
Jason Statham’s H is on a vengeance kick over the death of his son, getting a job protecting cash trucks as he tracks down the people responsible. The story is split into four chapters (with increasingly try-hard headings), looking at the main setting (the cash truck company), the white hat (H), the black hats (the truck robbers), and the heist finale. It’s cohesive in as far as it all exists to connect wisecracks and shoot-outs, but those looking for any degree of characterisation had best look elsewhere.
Those in the mood for action thrills might have a reason to stick around. Editor James Herbert must’ve had Baby Driver playing on repeat in the cutting room, as he attempts a similar trick in aligning the cuts to Christopher Benstead’s clicky and percussion-heavy soundtrack, a trick which works out surprisingly well. It manages a remarkably smooth pace for a two-hour feature with enough sudden timeline jumps to make late-period Frank Miller blush; while the events within aren’t exactly vital, they don’t stick around nearly long enough to become irritants.
Wrath Of Man is bread-and-butter revenge cinema, with Guy Ritchie trying to split the difference between himself and Michael Mann, a gambit that doesn’t entirely pay off. The fact that it isn’t aiming for loftier ideas might well be its saving grace (lest it turn into the rectal ouroboros of Revolver), and seeing Statham continue to be awesome might be enough for some audiences, but it’s still very slight as a feature. It’s as ‘essential’ as any Statham vehicle released in the first half of the 2010s, where the selling points began and ended with his name. For a reunion with the man who gave us Statham in the first place, it is quite underwhelming; Wrath Of Meh, more like.