So this movie was surprisingly decent! Forewarning: this film is not what the trailers are selling, it’s deeper and more complex. I was having a hard time working out why Guy Ritchie was doing a “Jason Statham” movie. Statham definitely has done Guy Ritchie movies but solo-Statham has his own brand of “action hero” movies he makes with other people. “Oh this is a Statham revenge thriller” is what the advertising had me believe. It is definitely not wholly a Statham-action cash-grab.
I think the genesis of this films is thatGuy Ritchie has been watching crime movies by European filmmakers such as Nicholas Winding Refn. He definitely watched NWR’s Too Old To Die Young. Babs Olusanmokun is in this film and he was one of the best things about TOTDY. Wrath of Man is a remake of a European crime film (I haven’t seen it) CASH TRUCK and I think this leads to this less than Anglo-American feel the movie has.
The thing that I took away most from this film is that it felt like Ritchie was using it to experiment. I believe that Wrath of Man was designed to misrepresent itself. The trailer is essentially just the first act and it unfolds how you would expect a film like this would. I think they knew they’d have an audience for this film if they sold it as typical Jason Statham fare it would bring in money AND expectations. But after the initial setup Ritchie starts doing other stuff. This movie is operatic and visually deliberate.
Now it’s not all “great” stuff. I’m not technically knowledgeable enough to describe it but he kept, essentially, doing the opposite of a crash zoom. These random little fast zoom outs were littered all over the film. There were several oners that were great for building tension and also letting performances breathe. There was also a few good transitions between cuts that gave the film a good flow.
I was happy to see that the film was more than what it needed to be. Though it shouldn’t be overlooked that it’s still a movie about tough guys talking tough and shooting guns. It’s not an art film but it does have artistic flourishes. The action scenes were comprehensible but unlike other Guy Ritchie films they weren’t especially stylish. The personality wasn’t there, the perspective. You can justifiably accuse Ritchie of going to the same well over and over, this felt like he was going to a communal well.
Overall this is a really decent addition to the genre. It’s an elevated Transporter or a more thoughtful Death Wish. A classy version of those movies and it’s perfectly entertaining. It is, though, a weaker Ritchie effort. It lacks the cool of Snatch or The Gentlemen. It lacks that “toff” Britishness. You expect something when you see Guy Ritchie’s name attached and this isn’t what we’re used to. Even Aladdin was more on brand than Wrath of Man. Still worth a watch though.
Better than what they’re selling it to be: ★★★