Jason Statham is back again with writer/director Guy Ritchie on their fourth collaboration, Wrath of Man. Both have made names for themselves in the crime, thriller, and action genres, as well as others, and began working together in the late ‘90s with movies like Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels in 1998 and Snatch in 2000. But it’s been a long time since then, and Wrath of Man doesn’t exactly stack up.
At its heart, Wrath of Man is a revenge movie wrapped up in a heist movie. Statham plays a stoic, mysterious man of few words called Patrick Hill, or simply “H.,” who takes a job at an armored truck service dealing mainly in the transport of money and other valuables. While he attempts to maintain a low profile, H.’s coworkers soon learn he might be overqualified for the job as he deftly disposes of 6 armed thugs who tried to rob the truck. H., we learn, is more than he appears – an organized crime lieutenant, H.’s secret life is revealed in bits and pieces. After his family had been inadvertently hurt in a previous robbery the truck service suffered, H. got to the job with them to find out who was responsible – and take revenge.
The plot is very straightforward, to the point of being minimal. However, to the film’s credit, the way the story gets told is effective, with an episodic chapter style revealing more of the story non-linearly, making the watcher reinterpret what we’ve already seen as more gets revealed. The melding of the heist movie and revenge flick is also a fresh take for each genre and well-executed but ultimately isn’t enough for the movie to stand on.
In addition to a standard-issue plotline, the characters are paper-thin. Even disregarding the fact that all the characters at the armored truck company have inexplicably on the nose nicknames like “H.,” “Bullet,” “Sticky John,” and the unbeatable “Boy Sweat,” each of these characters, as well as all the side characters, gangsters, and villains are all flat and unmemorable. Each character is written as though the actor picked a single personality trait, emotion, or character quirk out of a hat and was told to run with it. “I’m X character who does Y,” they all seem to say at every moment, followed by crudeness that somehow lacks the fun Guy Ritchie usually imbues in his films. Even Statham, for all his charisma, when playing the strong, silent type in H. comes off as just a cardboard cutout, who throughout the film probably fires a gun more times than he opens his mouth.
But then, this isn’t the type of movie you watch for the groundbreaking dialogue. It’s the type of movie you watch for the 5-minute Post Malone cameo, and to watch Jason Statham be a badass, which Wrath of Man showcases in spades.
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Published by HOLR Magazine