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edge staff writer


Jason Statham, Guy Ritchie reunite for ‘Wrath of Man’

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No one gets Jason Statham quite like Guy Ritchie. And vice versa.

From the very beginnings of their mutually beneficial collaborative efforts, the two have proven deft at understanding and embracing the talents of the other. But it has been a long time since their last outing together – 2005’s “Revolver” – and a lot has changed, with both men venturing more fully into the realm of the blockbuster.

They’ve teamed up once more on the new film “Wrath of Man,” based on the 2004 French film “Le Convoyeur.” It’s a Ritchie specialty, featuring assorted lowlifes and criminals and their behaviors of varying degrees of amorality. It’s an action thriller content to lean far more heavily on the former rather than the latter, sitting back and letting its action star lead do what he does best.

Watching this movie, you wouldn’t guess that it had been 15-plus years since Statham and Ritchie worked together. But the energy and sensibility that they shared is still going strong – it’s not the best work either’s ever done, but it is a solid entry into the filmography of both.

Statham plays a man named Patrick Hill, seeking a job working for a cash truck company in Los Angeles. The company – still reeling from a recent robbery that left three people dead, including two guards – takes him on, even though he’s a questionable candidate.

The humorless Hill is quickly dubbed “H” by coworker Bullet (Holt McCalleny, TV’s “Mindhunter”) and introduced to the various private security weirdoes who work there, people with names like Boy Sweat Dave (Josh Hartnett, “Most Wanted”) and Hollow Bob (Rocci Williams, “Big Boys Don’t Cry”). This company is responsible for transporting tens of millions of dollars across L.A. every day, and with the recent incident, everyone’s on high alert.

But when a robbery attempt (by a team led by a guy played by Post Malone, because why not?) ends with H methodically and efficiently dispatching every single one of the robbers, some questions begin to arise about him. Where did this guy come from? And what does he want?

Meanwhile, there’s a heist being planned – a big one – and while neither that crew nor H realizes it, they’re on a collision course. What happens next is anyone’s guess.

It’s tricky to go on from here, as much of the movie is spent moving back and forth in time and place, divulging more and more information regarding the situation at hand. There are a number of reveals that you may see coming – I didn’t, though perhaps I should have – but there’s still a lot of fun to be had from experiencing them in the moment.

Look, it’s obvious that there’s going to be more to Patrick Hill – he’s Jason Statham, you know? – and that of course plays in mightily to how the story develops. And through that steady drip of revelation, we’re slowly brought into a much wider world of criminality. Each evocatively titled chapter is intended to open the window just a little more.

That isn’t to say that “Wrath of Man” is a particularly sophisticated movie. It’s well-executed, with a very strong awareness of what it is and what it means to be, but at its core, it is Guy Ritchie doing what Guy Ritchie loves to do – show us terrible people being terrible to one another in visceral and brutal ways.

And it’s a ton of fun.

Are there issues? Of course. The back-and-forth nature of the timeline is largely effective, but there are definitely stretches where it can take a minute to realize where you are in the narrative. Some of the leaps are brief ones, blurring the chronology somewhat and making keeping track a bit tough in spots, particularly when you take into account the rather thin nature of the plot in the first place.

But you can’t fault the action side of things. Nowhere else is the sympatico nature of Ritchie and Statham more apparent; even though the sequences here are more straightforward than stylized, that sense of the kinetic unexpected remains. Fists, guns, whatever – it all works and works well. Meanwhile, the heist stuff is good, from the planning to the prep to the execution – pretty standard stuff, but it gets a little bump thanks to the presence of a very good Jeffrey Donovan and a going-for-it Scott Eastwood, among others.

As always, Jason Statham is being more or less Jason Statham, the same type of dude he plays in just about every movie he makes. But that’s the thing – he’s SO GOOD at being Jason Statham that it works. It just so happens that that guy is a perfect fit for certain kinds of films; one can Statham in everything from a franchise blockbuster to a low-fi indie. There’s less winking in “Wrath of Man” than we often see from Statham, who slaps a dour look on his face at the top and basically keeps it there. It works, thanks to charisma and strong action work.

The supporting cast is an interesting group, packed with the sorts of sleazy oddballs that Ritchie loves. McCalleny – a classic “That Guy” – is great in a role made for a, well … That Guy. He’s got a knack for these slightly skewed cop/soldier/security types. Hartnett was a pleasant surprise as a twitchy d-bag. Donovan’s great as the heist crew leader and Eastwood captures an aggressive untrustworthiness. Plenty of other familiar faces pop up and do good work, though the major surprise is probably when Andy Garcia rolls in for a scene or two as a federal investigator.

Whether you like it or you don’t (I did), “Wrath of Man” is undeniably the film that it wants to be. It relies on the blunt force charisma of Jason Statham and some gleefully rendered violence to overcome its flaws – and overcome them, it mostly does. It’s exactly what you’d expect from Guy Ritchie … and that’s a good thing.

All told, you won’t be mad if you see “Wrath of Man.”

[4 out of 5]

Last modified on Friday, 07 May 2021 09:37


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