Wrath of Man
Jason Statham delivers his most terrifying and brutal performance yet in Guy Ritchie's Wrath of Man, which is part heist movie and part revenge flick as Statham wages a one-man war on many with disturbing precision and ultra-violent clarity.
Director Guy Ritchie (The Gentlemen) explodes back onto the screen with the dark and dour heist-revenger hybrid Wrath of Man, starring Jason Statham in one of his most intense roles yet. Wrath of Man doesn’t feel like your traditional Guy Ritchie film in terms of stylish editing and memorable humor, instead swapping out his usual trademarks for something a bit more serious and a lot more disturbing. Wrath of Man is formulaic in its plotting, but is expertly paced and well acted, mostly thanks to Statham, but also because of the stellar supporting cast of familiar faces that Ritchie manages to get some career-highlight performances out of. Wrath of Man isn’t for the faint of heart, but those looking for a mean-spirited action film that holds back nothing might be surprised by the depths of ugliness that Ritchie and has cast achieve.
Wrath of Man follows H (Jason Statham), a mysterious new hire that works for a truck company that transports large amounts of money around in an armored car. H is taken under the wing of Bullet (Holt McCallany) and his crew as they avoid robberies and try their best to get home safely and in one piece.
Not much is known about H at the start of the film, yet you immediately know that Statham’s character is one not to be trifled with after an attempted robbery goes horribly wrong for the fools that decided to roll up on Statham with a loaded gun. He dismembers half-a-dozen men without breaking a sweat, while Josh Hartnett and Holt McCallany‘s characters watch on in disbelief.
From this moment, Guy Ritchie starts to open up the film, bouncing back-and-forth between H’s past, present and possible future as we learn about a heist gone wrong and H’s motivation to settle a score that is beyond personal.
Those looking for more info will simply have to check out the film as part of its charm is the nature of its unfolding. Those paying attention will likely discredit this one as predictable and familiar, but I feel that those traits are precisely what makes it that much more enjoyable.
I’m seeing a lot of comparisons to Heat and personally, I think that’s fair and not without reason, but that doesn’t mean Wrath of Man is the next Heat. To me, it felt more in line with the criminally-underrated Den of Thieves and will surely make for one heck of a pulpy double bill someday.
Wrath of Man borrows and shares from many great heist flicks, but none of those movies have Jason Statham completely honed in on death, destruction and bringing the wrath of hell onto those that get in his way.
Statham is one of those actors that everybody knows, yet still feels like an underrated asset that Hollywood isn’t fully utilizing. For years, he was known as the go-to martial arts guy, until only recently has he started to venture out into some more comedic secondary characters (Spy is a damn fine example of this). Obviously, he got his big break with Guy Ritchie and has managed to trickle into Ritchie’s films with a wide variety of effectiveness, but I truly feel that Wrath of Man is his most disturbing and terrifying performance yet.
There is absolutely nothing charming or suave about H. H is a well-oiled machine, fueled by hate and just bursting at the seams with rage and anger towards those that have done him wrong. And he will stop at nothing to get revenge, including harming those closest to the ones that he believes were involved with his personal tragedy.
Statham’s ability to essentially channel a mass-murdering serial killer, yet remain composed and straight-faced is frightening and all too effective. Ritchie knows the talents of Statham and gives him complete reign over his character, which makes this film unique when compared to the likes of Heat, despite its general plot feeling like “just another” heist movie.
But you know what? I am sick of people complaining about heist movies feeling or borrowing from past successful heist movies. Are you telling me that you don’t want a new film thats biggest inspiration was The Town or Ocean’s Eleven? I personally am a huge fan of the genre and will never get sick of seeing more serious R-rated heist movies or even silly PG-13 adaptations.
I mean, look at what Steven Soderbergh did with Logan Lucky, which again, is another spectacular heist movie, very much in the same vein as his Ocean’s trilogy.
Wrath of Man just feels like a mean and nastier version of your “traditional” heist movie and that’s totally okay for me.
Guy Ritchie manages to wrangle up some superb supporting performances out of guys like Scott Eastwood, Holt McCallany and even an almost unrecognizable Josh Hartnett. I’ve never cared for Eastwood, because I’ve always felt that he portrays very vanilla characters that are just too good for my tastes, but that has all changed with his turn in this flick.
Eastwood is dialed into half psychopath, half broken army vet as he tries to navigate through a post-war life. His biggest dilemma is that he’s bored being a civilian without the threat of death knocking at his door. He snaps in this film and it’s almost too enjoyable watching his character go from slightly unstable to a complete nut.
Josh Hartnett isn’t really a focal point of the film, but his brief moments and altercations are surprisingly refreshing and rightly toned in. I don’t know why, but I always felt like Hartnett could never find his groove in past movies. He’s a good actor with a passion for the business, but he always felt wrongly-cast in just about anything I’ve seen him in, despite wanting him to succeed and wanting the movie to do well for his career and general reaction from the audiences.
Here, he plays a mostly good dude that starts off as a prick, but is clearly just one of the guys doing his job and trying to get a paycheck. It’s almost weird how progressed his character becomes in the shadows of a much bigger film that isn’t really concerned about closing his arc, despite actually giving him enough screen time to grow. Hartnett completely embodies the character and makes what could’ve been just another faceless guy in the background someone that you kind of grow to like and almost feel bad for at one point in the film.
And I think that’s why Wrath of Man resonated with me so well. Guy Ritchie has always been an actor’s director, very much like Quentin Tarantino and other great filmmakers in that they can so effortlessly get some career-best performances out of guys that might go wasted in the hands of anyone else. Not only did he get yet another great Statham performance out of this film, but also Hartnett, Eastwood and a handful of others that I don’t have the space to mention.
Another strong highlight that is worthy of a shoutout is composer Christopher Benstead. I haven’t felt this strongly about the effectiveness of a score in years, yet the second his music hit over the opening credits, I was completely sucked into the film’s mood and emotion. Wrath of Man‘s music is never too showy or distracting, instead giving you a deep sense of dread and uneasiness as it pushes you from one scene to the next. I really dug it and was pleasantly surprised when I saw the name and had no real strong connection with Benstead. Here’s to hoping he continues to deliver scores of this caliber in the future.
Wrath of Man is Jason Statham waging a one-man war with pure, unfiltered rage and aggression. This is not your typical Statham action flick where he’s bouncing off the walls with martial arts or cracking a cool smile while he puts on his sunglasses. This is Jason Statham taking on the role of Jason Vorhees and unleashing hell on Earth by way of heist movie structure. Director Guy Ritchie might simply take the directing credit and walk away on this one, but I sure hope that doesn’t give people the impression that he phoned it in, because Wrath of Man is freaking fantastic in its brutal depiction of pushing someone to the point of no return. This one is going to sit in your stomach long after it’s over.