May 6, 2021 Wrath of Man (Movie Review)
Guy Ritchie (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels 1998, Snatch 2000) is back with Wrath of Man, and this time he has left the Middle East behind in favor of Los Angeles. However, like his 2019 take on Disney’s Aladdin, it is another remake. This time, it is of the 2004 French Thriller Le Convoyeur aka Cash Truck. Obscure as it may be, it is closer to Ritchie’s comfort zone than fairy tales. As is the casting of Jason Statham (The Italian Job 2003, Crank 2006), whose last collaboration with Ritchie was 2005’s Revolver.
Originally slated for release in theaters from on MGM, Miramax and United Artists Releasing on January 15th, but pushed back to May 7, 2021, Wrath of Man follows Patrick ‘H’ Hill (Statham), a new hire at the Fortico Security Company in L. A.. He is a stoic figure who only just manages to get along with his colleagues, like ‘Boy Sweat’ Dave (Josh Hartnett: The Faculty 1998, The Black Dahlia 2006) and Bullet (Holt McCallany: Fight Club 1999, The Losers 2010). That all changes when he manages to take down a robbery attempt single-handedly. He is not only more competent than he let on, he has a dark past and ulterior motives behind getting into Fortico. Someone in the company was involved in the death of his son, and he will not stop until he finds them.
This plotline in mind, is it worth a watch? It can be if one really likes camera trickery. It starts off with an angle that gives the audience a first-person view of a heist from within a cash truck, before literally going into the FPV of a character in the third act. That is not to mention the abundance of helicopter shots, and different angles of the same heist per chapter. The film goes for a Tarantino-esque, out-of-order storytelling. Different events are shown through different characters at different points, with title cards based from significant snips of dialogue (‘Scorched Earth’, ‘Bad Animals, Bad’). This would be fine, except there are also cards for time frames. They are placed into the scene, almost literally in one case, which can also be hard to keep up with as they cluster together.
For example, one scene can be 5 months before the previous, meaning it was 2 months before the one at the start of the film, then the next chapter fits in somewhere amongst that. Then there is the writing. Ritchie handled the screenplay alongside Marn Davies (The Gentlemen 2019) and Ivan Atkinson (King Arthur: Legend of the Sword 2017). It kind of shows too, as certain lines harken back to the odd one-liners seen in Snatch and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. Other times, it feels like they struggled to settle on a decent phrase. A line like “you cold…cold…cunt” sounds like it should end on a question mark.
Still, the twists and turns are handled effectively, keeping one guessing until the reveal. The action is done well too, from the intricacies of the heists to pure, bullet-flinging firepower. The character work is okay too. Well, with the big characters anyway. Everyone else orbits around Statham’s H and his rival Jan (Scott Eastwood: Suicide Squad 2016, Fate of the Furious 2017). They aid to develop their characters while having bits and pieces to themselves. Dana (Niamh Alger: Pure 2018, Raised by Wolves 2020) is the tough woman H keeps in his sights, Agent King (Andy Garcia: Ocean’s Eleven 2001, The Lost City 2005) gives H info and cleans up after his incidents, etc.
Even Hartnett, one of the top-billed performers, has little to do other than be there for Statham to bounce off of. His role is slimmer in the long run than some of the random guys in Jan’s heist unit. Statham is Statham- less quips, more powder-keg intensity. His character starts and ends that way, with a little glimpse at his softer side mixed in. While Eastwood has some fun taking some bites out of the scenery with his barely-hinged, gleefully evil character.
The best performances overall would go to McCallany as Bullet and Jeffrey Donovan (Burn Notice series, Changeling 2008) as Sarge Jackson. McCallany gives Bullet the corny charisma of a school teacher, unaware of H’s secret while having ‘dark spirits’ of his own. While Sarge- the ex-military, family man- leads the heists to get his former combat buddies a ‘pension fund’, despite his misgivings about Jan. They both prop up the leads, while having the most interesting arcs and turns to them.
So, Wrath of Man is a neatly-shot, finely-edited Action Thriller. The drama is enough to carry it through the quieter moments, and the action is brutal enough without feeling over the top. The dialogue itself can be weak bar the odd Ritchie-ism, and some characters have less to do than others. But Statham and Eastwood bring the fun in their action and lunacy, while McCallany and Donovan bring something for the grey matter. While it will likely not have the staying power of Snatch, it should make fine viewing for heist flick fans. Thus, for these reasons Cryptic Rock gives this Wrath of Man 3.5 out of 5 stars.