Director Guy Ritchie has crafted some of the best hybrids of Action and Caper films in cinematic history with “Snatch” and “Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels”. His latest film “Wrath of Man” for which he also helped write; focuses on a man named H (Jason Statham) who is given the unique moniker by his trainer when he is hired to work for an Armored Transport company.
The Soft-Spoken H barely qualifies for his job based on his assessment testing, but when his shipment is hit during his initial run; he shows uncanny skills and deadly precision as he eliminated the robbers.
While this makes him a hero at work; there are those who think he actually enjoys it and is hiding something.
The film cleverly jumps a few months ahead and then backward before resuming the story as we learn more about H’s past and how he earned those skills and what is motivating the darkness inside him to strike back at all attempted robberies of his shipments with extreme prejudice.
This all leads to an interesting confrontation as various elements and factions converge to make for a complicated but action-filled finale.
The film is actually lighter on action than I expected as while there is a good amount of it at times, it is spaced out, and do not expect to see Statham using the fighting skills he has shown in “The Expendables:” “Crank” and “Transporter” series as he is happy to let his guns do the bulk of his action sequences.
The film does drag in places as while it has a solid supporting cast with Scott Eastwood, Josh Hartnett, and others, cast members such as Andy Garcia barely appear in the film, and elements of his relationship with H are missing.
H has an interesting backstory but it is never fully developed in a way that gives the audience a satisfying explanation. We know elements of who he was and why he is doing things but there are deeper questions that are left unanswered.
I also kept waiting for a big twist or the trademark humor that is associated with many of Ritchie’s films which I believe was needed to fully round out this film.
I can overlook some leaps of logic during the finale and at various points as those are necessary to make films of this type of work, but some of them just seemed like taking the easy way out and not offering even a rudimentary explanation.
In the end “Wrath of Man” lacks the sustained action that fans may expect as well as the complex and gripping plots that are the hallmark of good drama.
The film is an at times entertaining hybrid that does some things very well; just not enough of them to really make this one stand out.
3.5 stars out of 5.
Wrath of Man
by Joseph Saulnier
Guy Ritchie and Jason Statham have team up again to bring us Wrath of Man. Patrick “H” Hill (Statham) is a new hire at Fortico, an armored car company out of Los Angeles, CA responsible for protecting hundreds of millions of dollars every week. Despite barely passable test scores, his impeccable resume lands him the job as the newest guard. What seems like his first day on the route, his truck gets hit by robbers and this lackluster guard turns into Chris Kyle, but with a pistol. Clearly there’s more to this guy than meets the eye.
Jason Statham shines through in the best way he knows how, kick ass and stoic faces. We soon learn that H is on a mission, and the story unfolds in true Guy Ritchie fashion with twists and turns galore. This is honestly the first movie that has kept me guessing for a long while on what exactly was happening. The cinematography was gritty and felt like the Guy Ritchie movies of yesteryear.
I have worked in the financial industry, and the movie makes it feel like these armored car heists are more common than they actually are. Maybe in a market like LA, they are, but it could also have been the pacing of the movie. This was my biggest point of contention. The movie would start moving along at a really good pace, then it almost gets to be moving too quickly, then it just slows to the crawl of a snail. Rinse and repeat for each act of the movie. I did enjoy the movie, but if they were intending that sort of pacing, I wonder if it would have worked better in an episodic format. Certainly there was enough mystery left in this world that Nicolas Boukhrief and Eric Besnard created, and Guy Ritchie, Marn Davies, and Ivan Atkinson have brought to life on the big screen. It actually felt to me like we could have sequels and we then may have a new John Wick on our hands. So an episodic format could have worked great, but it’s also possible they didn’t have enough to make it worth it. Or they’re holding for a franchise of sorts.
I would be remiss if I didn’t also shine light on the fantastic supporting cast that they together. Veterans of comedy and action alike have joined Statham on screen including Josh Hartnett, Jeffrey Donavan, Scott Eastwood, Andy Garcia, Laz Alonzo, Eddie Marsan, and Rob Delany. The list continues with the amazing talents of Holt McCallany, Rocci Williams, Niamh Algar, Darrel D’Silva and Babs Olusanmokun. I’ve always enjoyed every character and actor selection in Guy Ritchie films because they all bring something very unique to the screen that would just make the film feel a little empty if they weren’t there.
The bottom line is this: if you are missing the kinds of action movies that Jason Statham became pretty well know for (i.e. The Transporter), then this is definitely a film to watch. The action scenes are well shot and fantastically done, and it makes for the lulls in the movie, no matter how important to the plot they may be. Humor is at a minimum here, but the action is fantastic. I was glued to my seat, leaning into my computer screen with anticipation and tension so much in some parts that I didn’t even realize it was happening. Definitely a movie to watch if you can.
4 stars out of 5