Review by James Lindorf
“Wrath of Man” is the fourth collaboration between director Guy Ritchie and action movie legend Jason Statham. It has been 16 years since we last saw them work together in the lackluster action thriller “Revolver.” If for nothing else, we can be thankful that Ritchie learned shoulder-length hair and big facial hair doesn’t work for Statham during that time. Written by Ritchie, Ivan Atkinson, and Marn Davies, “Wrath of Man,” is a reimagining of Nicolas Boukhrief’s 2004 French film “Le Convoyeur.” This hybrid of “John Wick” and “Oceans 11” was initially set to be released on January 15th before the ongoing pandemic sent the studio in search of a new home. Thanks to Marvel pushing the release of “Black Widow” back even further, “Wrath of Man” is being released on May 7th and is the kickoff to the summer movie season.
Jason Statham stars as H, the newest armored car security guard for L.A.-based Fortico. H is gruff, to the point, and all but forthcoming in social situations. His mysterious nature is intriguing to some of the collection of jokers he works with and infuriating to others. However, his standoffish demeanor and barely passing scores aren’t fooling everyone. They know there is a lot more going on behind his wild eyes than he is willing to share. Luckily for H, they are a self-serving group who prefer to avoid getting mixed up in whatever secrets he is keeping. To Learn the ropes, H is partnered with team leader Bullet (Holt McCallany) and narcissistic mama’s boy, Boy Sweat Dave (Josh Hartnett). On just his second day, when his truck is almost robbed, H single-handedly dispatches the would-be thieves making him a hero to some and a threat to others.
People who genuinely dislike Jason Statham are few and far between. Still, no one considers him a thespian on the scale of Daniel Day-Lewis, Denzel, or Tom Hanks. While he may lack the range of those actors, none of them could pull off this role like he can. Statham brings his trademark physicality and enhances it with H’s near-emotionless indifference to everything but his goal. The blend is brilliantly intimidating and is a pleasure to see after the smarmy jester they turned his character into in “Hobbs and Shaw.” Being able to convey so much with the way he holds himself and the way he can glare is incredibly important for this film. He may have nearly as many grunts and growls as he does words. H isn’t one to mince words, and he expects every detail of his orders to be followed to the T.
Also expecting his orders to be followed without question is Jeffrey Donovan’s Jackson. Where Statham is the John Wick of this movie, Donovan is the Danny Ocean. He is the leader of an elite team of former soldiers who take what they feel they’ve earned for their service by robbing armored cars. Like H, Jackson has his team, including the loyal Carlos (Laz Alonso) and the wild card Jan (Scott Eastwood). They are a force to reckon with when it comes to knocking over armored cars. Each time they do it, they are going for bigger and bigger takes until on their last “mission,” they kill two guards, a kid, while severely injuring his father. This mistake drove them underground, afraid to lose their freedom. What they didn’t count on was having to fear for their lives once H recovered.
“Wrath of Man” is entertaining from beginning to end. The cinematography is terrific, the action is excellent, and it has good performances from top to bottom. This is honestly the best I have ever seen Josh Hartnett. If he keeps bringing this level of skill, I hope he makes a comeback. There are two separate stories at various points in time moving on a collision course. Having them interwoven could make the film harder to follow, but having more faith in the audience would improve the movie. Going 20 minutes without seeing Statham is a mistake. Whether it is because he was adapting another film, had too many characters, or lost it in the editing, but this feels less like a Guy Ritchie movie than we are used to seeing. It is more akin to an elevated version of a Jason Statham direct to DVD action flick. Within the confines of “Wrath of Man,” there is a great movie. A different approach to editing could have taken this from the middle of Ritchie’s filmography to the elite level where “Snatch,” “The Gentlemen,” and “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” reside. Despite the flaws, for sheer fun “Wrath of Man” falls somewhere in the 3-3.5 range.
Rating: R (Some Sexual References, Pervasive Language, Strong Violence Throughout)
Genre: Action, Mystery And Thriller
Original Language: English
Director: Guy Ritchie
Cast: Jason Statham, Holt McCallany, Jeffrey Donovan, Josh Hartnett, Laz Alonzo, Raúl Castillo, Deobia Oparei with Eddie Marsan and Scott Eastwood
Writer: Guy Ritchie, Ivan Atkinson, Marn Davies
Producer: Guy Ritchie, Ivan Atkinson, Bill Block
Release Date (Theaters): May 7th, 2021
Runtime: 1h 58m
Production Co: Flic Films UK, Miramax, CAA Media Finance, MGM, Toff Guy Films