Director: Guy Ritchie
Starring: Jason Statham, Holt McCallany, Jeffrey Donovan, Josh Hartnett, Laz Alonso, Raúl Castillo, DeObia Oparei, Eddie Marsan, Scott Eastwood
Run Time: 119 mins
Wrath of Man is the latest by director Guy Ritchie and reteams the eclectic director with Jason Statham, whose career can be attributed by his star turns in Ritchie’s two earliest features, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch. Ritchie’s filmography is a mixed bag – he has strong successes with films such as Sherlock Holmes and The Gentlemen but then there are misfires such as Swept Away and The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and then bizarre blockbusters in between with King Arthur: Legend of the Sword and the more family friendly live-action remake of Aladdin.
Ritchie and Statham return to their roots with Wrath of Man, which is an entertaining yet angry heist thriller that boasts a typically snarky script. Split into four chapters, Statham plays ‘H’, who is hired by Los Angeles security firm Fortico, which transports millions of dollars in cash in its trucks. When H and his colleague, Bullet (Holt McCallany) are ambushed, H demonstrates an expert adeptness with firearms, earning a promotion and credibility within the company. But is H really in it for the job or does he have an ulterior motive?
Wrath of Man is at its best in its opening act, Ritchie introducing the characters coolly and suitably ramps up the tension after the initial hijacking, that culminating in a desperate and rage-filled event. Statham is reliably solid as a man of few words, although the words that do manage to venture out of his mouth are rich in swagger. The rest of the cast are fine, but there isn’t a great deal of development and it’s a shame to see actors such as Eddie Marsan wasted in small roles. Holt McCallany and Scott Eastwood fare the best out of the supporting cast, McCallany is Statham’s supervisor and Eastwood a psychotic villain.
The main problem with Wrath of Man is that it’s a film that feels more important than it is. The decision to tell its story in chapters is an acceptable one but the narrative is not as labyrinthine as Ritchie thinks it is to warrant this creative decision. It lacks depth and is mostly all surface. It’s a surprisingly more restrained film stylistically than previous Ritchie efforts in its camera work and editing which is often frenetic. Chris Benstead’s score is excellent though and he crafts some memorable themes, adding a compelling sense of foreboding to the narrative.
Wrath of Man is ultimately a mid-tier effort from Guy Ritchie. It’s suitably entertaining throughout and has its moments but it’s not particularly memorable and lacks some of Ritchie’s trademark identity that he is famed for. This is a satisfyingly bitter heist film with a committed Jason Statham performance but not a great deal else.