“Wrath Of Man” is an action flick that revolves around Mr. Hill, a silent, stoic security guard with a dark past played by Jason Statham. Directed by Guy Ritchie, the film also features actors Scott Eastwood, Josh Hartnett and a short cameo from rapper Post Malone.
The film opens to a skyline; punchy and dramatic, the music is foreboding. Almost satisfyingly, action ensues within the first two minutes. Guns are pulled out, screams arise and the camera shakes as the world of the movie is plunged into chaos. The film finds its calm in the next few minutes with the introduction of Jason Statham’s character — his presence imbuing the scene with an assured tranquility — setting a trend that will carry forward through the rest of the film.
The visuals are exactly what you’d expect of a mainstream action film: frequent wide-spanning aerial shots, fast-paced and fast-edited action sequences gently peppered with the accompanying sound of gunshots. Visually, the film doesn’t attempt to create its own look and abandons Ritchie’s typical quick, choppy style. Its default, sleek gloss does, however, suit Statham’s latest selection of movies.
Statham bears the brunt of much of the film’s narrative, his no-nonsense stance carrying him through the film. While it works for what the film sets out to do, it also means that there aren’t too many layers or too much nuance he can add given the limits of the screenplay and his capabilities.
Perhaps the most engaging part of “Wrath of Man” is its self-labeled three-act presentation. Cutting back and forth across time, the distinct sequence of events lends itself nicely to the serious tone of the film as we follow Mr. H in his journey, slowly learning more about his motivations and his past.
Similar to the rest of his films, Ritchie employs an ensemble cast to fill out both the troupe of bad guys and heroes. There’s a slew of characters, but unlike “Snatch” or “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels,” they don’t seem fleshed out enough to warrant the two-hourlong screen time. Relying a little too heavily on classic heist archetypes, the motivations of the individual characters are relegated to singular dimensions, not aided by the simplicity of the protagonist.
Unfortunately, most of all the dialogue feels stilted and almost expository, relying on obvious lines to communicate essential plot points or to indicate familial relations that might have been better communicated in a visual or more subtle manner. The dialogue is at its worst when it involves the interaction of the ensemble as a whole. The attempted familiarity and banter of the locker room leans more toward cliche than classic, sounding more superficial and juvenile than jokes or threats actual bad guys would say.
The film’s straightness in all aspects almost leads the audience to believe that there is a Ritchie-esque narrative shoe that is about to drop. There is a slight switch in the second act, as steps are retraced and the audience is provided with context to the setup, but the film still manages to veer back into predictable territory.
“Wrath of Man” ultimately fails to do something different within the heist genre. It has all the elements and production value of a great summer heist, but its commitment to archetypes outweighs its pursuit of unique storytelling.
Contact Megha Ganapathy at [email protected].