#REVIEW: “WRATH OF MAN”
Review by David Baldwin for Mr. Will Wong
Patrick Hill, or H for short (Jason Statham), has just landed a job at armored cash truck company Fortico Security. He is the strong, silent type, and his co-workers do not know what to make of him. When he dispatches an entire group of thieves and kidnappers with relative ease, the company calls him a hero. But there is a lot more to H than he is letting on.
Much like a major chunk of Co-Writer/Director Guy Ritchie’s oeuvre, WRATH OF MAN is a stylishly edited and violent tale of morally ambiguous characters with at least some stake in a lot of money. Like last year’s THE GENTLEMEN, the Film feels like a return to form for the Filmmaker after his stint on the live-action remake of ALADDIN and whatever he intended KING ARTHUR: LEGEND OF THE SWORD to be. Ritchie has always excelled at telling films like this, and certainly relishes in being able to play in this sandbox once again. There are flourishes of greatness sprinkled throughout the Film, from a single-take framed in the back of a doomed armored truck, to a heist that leads to a vicious shootout juxtaposed against the men planning said heist. Ritchie knows how to shoot action and these moments are some of his best in recent memory. I liked that he included a flashy James Bond-style Opening Credit sequence as well.
What Ritchie tends to struggle with is how to tell his stories and this is where WRATH OF MAN completely falls apart. The Film is told in non-chronological chapters, telling the backstories of the main players and how they all come to a head in that Third Act shootout. He even drops in some fun title cards that at least one member of the cast eventually speaks into existence (which ends up being more annoying than it sounds). While he remains enigmatic throughout, we do get some form of understanding of H through these flashbacks. Sadly, we learn very little about the rest of the Cast beyond their vaguely one-dimensional traits. We learn even less about their motivations, which is odd considering just how dense the exposition is in these scenes.
It makes for a bit of an awkward whiplash when characters start being killed during that shootout scene I keep mentioning – because we should be caring about who is dying, but we have very little reason to. A few funny one-liners or odd traits are not enough to care about anyone here and unfortunately that is all Ritchie gives us. Why bother casting recognizable Actors like Josh Hartnett, Jeffrey Donovan, Scott Eastwood and Andy Garcia, if you are barely going to do anything with them? There are too many characters populating WRATH OF MAN, and I am genuinely frustrated by how little they matter to the Plot besides moving it from moment to moment. Even Statham seems less enthusiastic than he usually is in this kind of role.
All of that said, there are things to like about WRATH OF MAN and a lot to dislike. It is great that Ritchie is making these kinds of films again and I look forward to him continuing to make them. I just hope they are better thought out and more cohesive than this.
VVS Films release WRATH OF MAN on Premium Digital and On-Demand on Tuesday, May 25, 2021.
The Film is playing in select theatres now.
*Please ensure you exercise caution in observing COVID-19 protocols if seeing this in-theatre.*