Wrath of Man

Wrath of Man ★★½

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

Three things about WRATH OF MAN, Guy Ritchie's latest crime epic about Hard Dudes, notable as his first work with Jason Statham in fifteen years or so -

1) Weird combination of revenge 'you killed my boy!!' epic welded to an armored car robbery crew takedown plot (apparently inspired by a French crime thriller, and not Heat - it's guys in body armor robbing armored cars though, so 90% of the audience for this is probably going to think Heat, and who knows? maybe the French film was inspired by Heat anyway) --the problem is, Pacino was trying to take down De Niro and his crew --Statham is set up as formidable here (almost superhuman, really, between his skillset and his job) and the crew he's getting revenge on, while....sort of interesting in concept (they're a unit of down-on-their-luck veterans who have turned to crime) play as pretty incompetent in execution. Two examples -

1) The group's 'Wild Card', the closest thing they have to a Waingro, who kills some people in the opening robbery (including Statham's son) and starts the whole revenge ball rolling, is played by SCOTT EASTWOOD -which, in and of itself, isn't a problem - Eastwood could do venal badguy or they could have made it a whoopsie of the trigger-squeezing kind, but Ritchie and co make Eastwood the tooth-baring, backtalking, creepy guy with the dead white eye and scar tissue around the side of his face in this gang of robbers, and when you think of the current crop of second-generation actors who are able to portray a dead-eyed, scar-faced, military veteran who's willing to cross his colleagues because of his lust for money and blood, Scott Eastwood is.....................probably not the first face you think of. There's a reason why Clint Eastwood cast him in the role he did in Gran Torino, is what I'm saying.

Secondly, it's not just that the casting is off with these dudes, but that they're written unconvincingly as foils -for instance, when you're making a film that has clearly been influenced by Heat, it's weird that Eastwood's Waingro-light wouldn't be out of the crew (at least) after one screwup, let alone multiple --and yet, that's not what happens here. The unit's inability to see keeping him around as a bad idea means he gets to be there for Statham to take revenge on (it's okay, I used a spoiler warning) but it makes them look.............not good at their criminal jobs, which they're supposed to be. Not just that, though. Other things. For instance, towards the end of the film, there's a big sequence coming up where the bad guys are planning to bump off the actual armored car depot. We're supposed to be impressed by the amount of casing and planning they put into it, as well as they fact they have an inside man among the company staff. And yet, a big part of their plan is the mole essentially letting Statham know there's going to be a robbery, and asking him to be on board/not resist, so that he gets to live, THE DAY IT'S HAPPENING, after he's seen Statham kill multiple men in previous robbery attempts.

2) As a viewer who's occasionally wondered 'hey, what happened to Josh Hartnett?' it's kind of neat to see him pop up here in a supporting role as one of the armored car drivers. Unfortunately, this is the sort of film where the pleasure of seeing Josh Hartnett turn up and play some scenes opposite Statham is followed by the sinking realization that THAT'S how the movie used Hartnett.

3) Despite 1 and 2, a film of this type is still pretty watchable if you're in the mood for something with hard-edged men with guns yelling at each other. It's got a good soundtrack, and Ritchie's camera is fluid and keeps things moving. The opening credits are good, too (This is the type of film where I single out the credits when looking for things to praise, I guess) - it wasn't not fun, but I'm sure the details will be starting to fade by next week. Is it just me though, or does Statham look like Hunter Hearst Helmsley on that poster? (other people must have made that same observation)

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