Jason Statham and Guy Ritchie are a killer combination, at least when it comes to action movies. When I saw the trailer, I was excited to watch the movie. While there is nothing groundbreaking, the film is exactly what you expect and want from a Guy Ritchie film: a clever plot, intrigue that keeps you guessing, Jason Statham at his best, and action-packed entertainment.
Reminiscent of Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, Wrath of Man is directed and co-written by Guy Ritchie with Ivan Atkinson and Marn Davies. Featuring Jason Statham, Holt McCallany, Jeffrey Donovan, Josh Hartnett, and Scott Eastwood, Wrath of Man introduces us to Statham as H, a mysterious stranger hired by a cash truck company responsible for moving millions of dollars around Los Angeles every day. One day, H shows advanced skills as he shoots down robbers, saving his fellow guards, Bullet (Holt McCallany) and Dave (Josh Hartnett). We learn that H is secretly hunting down the men responsible for murdering his son in a similar robbery a few months earlier. H plans traps for the robbers but before he can complete it, the group of thieves plans one last heist, the depot where H works. Will H manage to get his revenge or will the robbers get away with murder and all the money?
One of the aspects that helps the intrigue and the action in the film work so well is not just the plot but how the story itself is constructed. Guy Ritchie does a fantastic job of directing the film, setting up the story with the initial robbery, then introducing the character of H. Once we see H working, Ritchie takes the story back into the past to tell the story of what happened to H and his son as well as other pieces of the story. We get each piece of the story which is then brought together into an action-packed conclusion. By the time we get there, we are invested in the characters, and pacing out the story in this way, provides a steady pace and keeps the audience guessing as to who the robbers actually are and if they work for the company being robbed or not. We even are left waiting to find out what H’s true motives are until partway through the film.
The action is smart, well-plotted, and realistic. Nothing shown is impossible to someone who is highly trained and capitalized on Statham’s strengths. Most of the action is violent, not for the faint of heart but completely what you expect to see in this kind of movie. Both Statham’s character and the team of robbers use guns along with physical strength to accomplish their deeds. Statham uses intimidation but also uses information to track down the robbers. It is the mixture of intelligent choices, along with the fights and realistic damage done in the combat scenes that make the movie engaging.
The acting is solid. Jason Statham is Jason Statham. While he is not significantly different from most characters I’ve seen him play, he plays his character well, infusing subtle anger and coldness into his interactions. Jeffrey Donovan as Jackson is smart and far more likable than you expect while Scott Eastwood as Jan was menacing in their roles as part of the team of robbers. Holt McCallany as Bullet is engaging and his character complex while Josh Hartnett as Dave is one of the best performances, playing a character that is both a coward and not terribly likable but that is exactly what he is meant to portray. While there is nothing unusual in the performances, all of the actors are enjoyable and add to the entertainment.
As I said, there is nothing ground-breaking. The plot is not complex. It is a solid blend of a heist plot woven with revenge elements but it is not new. Once you do figure out H’s motives, then the plot does get more predictable. The characters are not terribly complex either, in that we don’t get much depth. And while I enjoy the violence and action, it is not for everyone.
If you like Guy Ritchie, though, this movie is exactly what you want, tons of action, intrigue, and smart heists. The material is presented in a clever way to keep the audience guessing. The robbers are interesting but not the good guys but none of the characters are particularly moral, which adds a layer of complexity. If you like heists or revenge movies, this will be super entertaining. I loved the action, the presentation of the story, and the acting in the film. It is gritty, violent but keeps you on the edge of your seat.
4 out of 5 armored trucks.
Wrath of Man opens in theaters Friday, May 7, 2021.