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Length: 119 minutes
Director: Guy Ritchie
Writers: Guy Ritchie, Ivan Atkinson, Marn Davies
Cast: Jason Statham, Holt McCallany, Jeffrey Donovan, Josh Hartnett, Scott Eastwood, Rocci Williams, Andy Garcia, and Rob Delaney
Release details: In theatres 29 April (Singapore)
2 out of 5 stars
If Jason Statham is the lead in an action movie, then you'll be expecting thrilling fight sequences as he mops the floor with anyone who stands in his way, as he spouts the occasional gruff utterance in his signature British accent. Wrath Of Man bucks this trend a little by skimping on the melee combat sequences in lieu of more shootouts (in masks, no less)... which may not be entirely what you're watching a Jason Statham film for. It's violent and gritty for sure, but it doesn't quite make use of Statham's talents.
Wrath Of Man is an action thriller that revolves around a mysterious stranger who is hired by a security firm to help guard the movement of several cash trucks. It is based on the 2004 French film, Le Convoyeur (Cash Truck). As the plot unfolds, the mysterious stranger's motivations are revealed and a sinister plot is uncovered.
It has to be said — there are not enough fisticuffs in the movie. That's not to say there isn't a lot of blood and violence and gore (it certainly earns its M18 rating with gunshots to the face and the like), but it's mostly done with firearms. You don't get to see Statham throw down with other characters as much as you'd like. Of course, he eventually triumphs and all, but come on — you're not here to watch him gun down other characters, you're here to see him pummel the living daylights out of his opponents. It's a bit surprising that for a two-hour long film, they couldn't squeeze in enough brawls to justify the inclusion of Statham.
That also means that the length of the film could have done with a hefty trim. It tosses superfluous character after superfluous character into the mix to make it seem like some sort of epic drama when actually, it just boils down to the rivalry between two characters. Yes, the hero needs expendable bodies to take out, but not at the cost of having the focus of the film jump all over the place.
Nevertheless, the heist sequence (because if the protagonist is guarding cash trucks, then you know that the villain is going to be making a play for those cash trucks) is fairly interesting, if a little derivative. It's amusing to see how wrenches are thrown into the works (not entirely because of Statham's character though) as their heist gets derailed. And of course, since the bad guys are the ones pulling off the heist, the outcome is predictable.
In fact, almost everything about the film is predictable. The worst aspect of it is how the film pretends that it's not predictable, and ends up wasting the audience's time by leading them on tangents that don't go anywhere (i.e. the character dies). The story hinges on an insipid plot point — a character's mask comes off and instead of putting it back on immediately, they'd rather spend the time yelling and murdering bystanders, which of course, leads to the protagonist recognising the character and eventually taking his revenge. Perhaps we've been conditioned by COVID-19 to immediately put our mask back on if it comes off (it's not a surgical mask in the film, and it doesn't take place during the pandemic), but even a criminal with any level of competency would know that hiding one's identity is paramount to not being caught. Then the movie concludes with a miraculous, inexplicable revival, just so that it can conclude in the most unsurprising way possible (you can guess who wins).
The film is not helped by stilted, playground bully dialogue that has characters intimidating others by telling others to suck on certain appendages — surely this could not have been in the original French film? Yes, it's an action film, and it doesn't necessarily need masterful, pithy dialogue. But it also needs to have the characters sound like actual adults rather than a bunch of angry kids.
Wrath Of Man relies on too many forced coincidences without actually delivering the sort of action you want to see, making it thoroughly unsatisfying to watch. It has all the right ingredients to be a good film — crime, violence and testosterone — but it's so artlessly put together that they're just wasted.
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