CAST: Jason Statham, Holt McCallany, Jeffrey Donovan, Josh Hartnett, Scott Eastwood, DeObia Oparei, Laz Alonso, Raúl Castillo, Chris Reilly, Eddie Marsan, Andy García, Niamh Algar, Darrell D’Silva, Babs Olusanmokun, Cameron Jack, Rocci Williams, Alessandro Babalola, Tadhg Murphy, Josh Cowdery, Jason Wong, Rob Delaney, Eli Brown, Mark Arnold, Thomas Dominique, Alex Ferns, Lyne Renée, Eve Macklin, Austin Post
RUNNING TIME: 119 mins
BASICALLY…: A mysterious character known as H (Statham) begins working for a cash truck company…
NOW FOR THE REVIEW…
In the sixteen years since he last teamed with director Guy Ritchie (on Revolver, if you must know), Jason Statham has made a name for himself in a bunch of ground-level action movies like The Mechanic, Blitz, Safe and Homefront, all of which – regardless of their quality – served Statham well as a formidable lead. Funnily enough, Wrath of Man is exactly the kind of film that would fit within the typical Statham action movie mould, but with a more stylistic director like Guy Ritchie at the helm.
It’s a formidable reunion for the pair (who also have Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre out next month in cinemas), who deliver an entertaining, if flawed, crime thriller that will please fans of the duo’s past collaborations, even though it may not be as instantly memorable as something like Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.
After a brief prologue showing a heist on an armoured cash truck that appears to end in bloodshed, we meet Statham’s Patrick Hill as he applies for a job as a cash truck driver. After narrowly passing the necessary exams, Hill is taken under the wing of company veteran Bullet (Holt McCallany) who dubs him “H”, but after a few run-ins with would-be thieves – among them Post Malone in a cameo role – H displays a cold, psychopathic way of dealing with threats which gain him more notoriety within his company. However, as we find out more and more about Patrick Hill, including whether that is his actual name or not, and his real reasons for becoming a cash truck driver, not to mention how he directly connects to that opening heist, the stage is set for a showdown between him and a group of ambitious robbers who are after a huge money grab.
Although you can spot a number of Guy Ritchie’s usual tropes throughout this movie, including some of the smart-alecky dialogue and the classic “explaining a heist plot while said heist is playing out” convention, Wrath of Man doesn’t entirely feel like a Guy Ritchie movie. Again, it seems like a script – loosely based, incidentally, on the 2005 French film Cash Truck – that was originally developed for Jason Statham to star in anyway, but they just happened to get someone like Ritchie on board to direct instead; the mood and tone is a little less playful than some of the filmmaker’s other crime movies, including his more recent offering The Gentlemen, here adding a sense of self-seriousness which at this point feels a little out of character for a director like him.
However, Ritchie does make the most out of a standard gig for someone of his calibre, and still manages to direct with a good pace that does end up sucking you in to the development of the story, told via non-linear chapter titles that all circle back around to the aforementioned heist that plays during the opening scene. You’re mostly along for the ride, as you watch Statham get to grips with his new profession, and also taking out some armed baddies in the coldest manner possible, and when you start getting more of a sense as to who this guy actually is, it’s cool seeing the actor play someone so sociopathic while still retaining that badass energy he’s become known for. As ever, Statham does great at playing the sullen, mysterious action hero, but it’s interesting here because with the character he’s playing, if this were any other movie he would most certainly be the villain, one who just happens to be the protagonist in this current story we’re watching. In that sense, it makes things a little less easy to predict whether we should root for this guy or not, because despite what he goes through he is shown to still do some cold-blooded things that leave you questioning your undying support for anyone Statham plays.
Wrath of Man also does a good job of setting up the villains of the movie who, parallel to Statham, would be underdog heroes in just about any other narrative, except here they are painted in a very villainous light on account of how they, too, connect to the opening heist scene. You have character actors like Jeffrey Donovan and Scott Eastwood playing against type, but also in a way where they actually do see themselves as the typical leads of a standard heist movie, yet you are always rooting against them because, at the end of the day, they are definitely the bad guys in this scenario. Sometimes, though, the chapter segments don’t give too much attention to some of their motivations – from what we can gather, these people begin robbing cash trucks simply out of boredom – which, despite being refreshingly simplistic, aren’t solid enough to warrant full interest in what they’re doing or why they’re even doing it. There are also moments, mostly during the first section of the movie, where things don’t seem like they’re moving forward as much as they should, leaving you wondering when things are eventually going to pick up. By the time it does, Wrath of Man becomes a bit more entertaining, with a climax that’s a neat mix of Assault on Precinct 13 and the heist that we never see in Reservoir Dogs. It’s just those initial few moments when it begins to lag, but luckily not for long.
For Guy Ritchie fans, it’ll definitely be a treat to see him reunite with Jason Statham after so long apart, while for Statham fans it’s surely just as special to see what would normally be just another one of his movies directed by the guy who gave him his big break all those years ago. Sometimes the styles of both don’t always mix, settling more for convention than anything truly unique, but as a reunion it’s not a bad one for both parties to come back together for.
SO, TO SUM UP…
Wrath of Man is an entertaining crime thriller that reunites director Guy Ritchie with Jason Statham after so many years, in a film that script-wise seems much more like one of Statham’s typical action outings than an actual Guy Ritchie movie, but is directed well enough to overcome some of its flaws and serve as a decent action outing for the pair.