May 4th, 2021
MOVIE: WRATH OF MAN
STARRING: JASON STATHAM, JOSH HARTNETT, HOLT MCCALLANY, SCOTT EASTWOOD, JEFFREY DONOVAN
DIRECTED BY: GUY RITCHIE
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 3 STARS (Out of 4)
It may not seem true, but director Guy Ritchie is undoubtedly an auteur. Some cinema enthusiasts may not like that, but the director of Snatch has carved out his own niche style of movie. That’s not to say that he can’t be a gun for hire. His recent blunders of King Arthur, followed by the live-action mess of Aladdin, are only a few blips in a relatively strong career. His comeback began with The Gentleman, which was a throwback to his early films, with whip smart writing, and larger than life characters. Which is what makes Wrath of Man such an interesting new installment into the filmography of Ritchie. If anything, this is the most nuts and bolts movie that Ritchie has made. A throwback, grab your lunch pail and go to work kind of movie. This is a straight mixture of a heist and revenge film, with hard nosed Jason Statham teaming back up with the director, delivering the masculine goods. Wrath of Man is a cold and calculated action picture, with an old school appreciation for great heist movies of the past.
The opening shot is of the inside of an armoured cash truck, blocked off and then shot at by men dressed as construction workers. What we can gather from that angle is that things didn’t go flawless and then we transition to Statham’s side of the story. Statham is a guy named H, not a spy or anything, just H for short, and he’s recently moved to America to work at the armoured truck company. This is a maximum security facility, with vaults of cash, and military training for all the drivers. H is taken under the wing of Bullet (Holt McCallany), the veteran of the team, followed by driver Sweat Dave (Josh Hartnet) who takes him on his first few exchanges. When another group of robbers try to take a truck the truth comes out about H, that he’s a big mobster, a marksman, and an ice cold killer. The real reason for his work at the security company is because his son Dougie (Eli Brown) was killed in that opening heist and now he’s set out to find the men responsible.
As far as heist films go, Wrath of Man hits all the right beats. The screenplay is written by Ritchie, Nicolas Boukhrief, Eric Besnard, Marn Davies, and Ivan Atkinson. The multiple writers might explain the narrative’s constant bouncing back and forth, building Statham’s character’s origin story, showing various points of view of the heist, planning the robbery, and leading up to the big score. Above it all, it’s a battle between two sides, the only difference is that one side is just Jason Statham. The other team is a murderers row of tough guys, with Jeffrey Donovan as Jackson, leading his men that were ex-military, trying to get their piece of the government cut. The loose cannon of the group is Scott Eastwood’s Jan, with a signature scar over his eye, and an inability to stick to the plan. The fun of Wrath of Man is seeing it all unfold, guessing who will be the last man standing, and the thrill of it all going down.
The heist film has become a staple of cinema and there is none better than Michal Mann’s Heat. Wrath of Man does not approach being as good as that, but it certainly understands how to keep the audience engaged. One thing is for sure, Jason Statham is never slowing down as a solid action star. The other part I enjoyed was something entirely different from Ritchie and still in his wheelhouse. This is a strong movie to have in your collection, while it doesn’t have the witty banter of Robert Downey Jr. in the Sherlock Holmes films, or the original character stylings of Hugh Grant in The Gentleman. That’s not what Ritchie is going for.
Another viewpoint I had about Wrath of Man was it’s portrayal of masculinity and who our heroes are today. There’s not a lot of macho posturing here and it’s hard to say any one character is a true hero. We’re rooting for Statham, but at the center of Wrath of Man is the dark reality of loss, and vengeful people living a painful existence. That’s not what I was expecting to see out of Guy Ritchie. Nevertheless, Wrath of Man is a sledgehammer striking against concrete, with Jason Statham taking a big swing.
WRATH OF MAN IS IN THEATERS THIS WEEKEND MAY 7TH
Written by: Leo Brady