The last few years have been a roller coaster ride for writer/director Guy Ritchie.
From box office failures like “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword” to box office hits like 2019’s “Aladdin,” Ritchie has struggled for years to find consistency in the quality of his films, making him one of the most polarizing directors in Hollywood today. You either love or hate his movies; there’s rarely room for any in-between.
One thing is certain: when it comes to a Guy Ritchie original, he sure does have a shortlist of his favorite actors to work with. The relationship between Guy Ritchie and Jason Statham goes back to Ritchie’s 1998 directorial debut “Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels.” The director’s latest, “Wrath of Man,” is the first film the two have worked on together since 2005, and if there is anything more dangerous than Jason Statham, it is Jason Statham with a thirst for vengeance.
The Story: “Wrath of Man” is a story about Patrick Hill (Statham), also known as “H.” H begins work at Fortico Security, an armored truck company that transfers millions of dollars in cash every day. Despite barely passing his driving and firearm tests, H joins the team but has a hard time getting along with his co-workers.
One day, his superior Bullet (Holt McCallany) is taken hostage during a drop and the kidnapers demand the $2 million in their truck. H defies his training and protocols to easily dispatch the kidnapers with expert marksmanship. The incident puts H on the radar of a lot of dangerous people, but it turns out H is hiding secrets of his own and the job at the security company is only a small piece of a much larger puzzle.
Bright Spots: “Wrath of Man” is the type of action thriller that makes watching movies fun again. Ritchie delivers back-to-back hits coming off the heels of 2019’s “The Gentleman” and has found his niche in the action-with-a-twist genre. The role of H is perfect for Statham, part of a dying breed of action stars. The film allows Statham to deliver the action we have all become accustomed to, and under the direction of Ritchie his character is given depth that has rarely been presented.
“Wrath of Man,” much like Ritchie’s catalog of work, tells a story within a story full of vantage points and time jumps until we get all the pieces of the puzzle. The common theme for all the characters’ motivations is family, whether the sin is greed, pride or wrath. The film has a great supporting cast, including standouts Scott Eastwood (Jan) and Jeffrey Donovan (Jackson). All characters, including our heroes, live in shades of gray; no one is pure in their intentions or actions, but the various motivations allow audiences to make their own judgment about with whom to sympathize.
Weak Spots: Those who fault Ritchie for repeatedly making the same movie won’t have any reason to change their position. Ritchie’s preference for gangster films and colorful characters is on full display. The film is well-made, but is ultimately not very memorable. The timeline can be hard for some to follow as the movie constantly switches from past to present without confirmation. You won’t see the crazy stunts found in Statham’s “Fast and Furious” franchise. The action is reserved and depends far more on the narrative, which can be easy to lose if you miss some key details. This film is a steady step behind Ritchie’s last output, “The Gentleman,” but not a total loss.
The Takeaway: Ritchie and Statham have both grown a lot since 2005’s “Revolver.” That evolution has opened the door to a styled and authentic experience that gives both men the shot in the arm their careers desperately need.
See or Skip: “Wrath of Man” is the textbook thriller that audiences expect, full of action, suspense and drama that gives the feeling of getting your money’s worth.
(Edited by Kristen Butler and Matthew B. Hall)
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