Guy Ritchie and Jason Statham reunite for the first time since Revolver for Wrath of Man, an action thriller starring Statham as H, a shoot-first-ask-questions-later type who gets hired by a cash truck company to protect millions of dollars moving through Los Angeles.
Ritchie has had a career filled with ups and downs, having directed crime comedy hits such as Snatch and last year’s The Gentlemen, but he has also made some critical disappointments such as Swept Away and King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.
This is quite a unique project for a Ritchie movie. You can see Ritchie put style in many of the film’s sequences, with the film beginning with a pretty locked-down long take, but this is not the fun, quippy Statham vehicle you would expect from this duo; it’s a serious action film, and it’s quite enjoyable.
Besides one moment in the film featuring a cameo appearance from a certain music artist, Wrath of Man is free of jokey one-liners and humor; it’s a film that makes unique choices with its story while preserving the genre tropes.
This is a film that intentionally withholds information from its audience early on, showing us a scene and then, later on, showing us the same scene but from a different perspective. The nonlinear structure of this story allows for fascinating reveals as the film unfolds.
We are introduced to H agreeing to take the job of protecting the cash trucks, but we don’t understand his motivations at first. As the film goes on, we learn about his backstory where his son was gunned down by thieves, allowing us context for why he does what he does.
The revenge aspect may be the most familiar idea in the film, as just last week, we had Without Remorse, another action film about a man going after the men who killed his family. It feels like an easy gimmick to give our hero personal stakes in the blood and gunfire, but by the end, it almost feels like an afterthought to the main story.
Our story follows the villains trying to pull off a heist on the cash trucks, and it spends an unconventional amount of time with them and their plan. Unfortunately, the villains are simply a group of men who want money, and none of them stand out among the rest.
Much of the performances in the movie consist of men growling their objectives, with Statham portraying the same tough guy he’s played for years. Where this film shines is how the movie tells its story. This is the most novel idea the movie has, and it works very well.
As far as the action sequences go, Ritchie directs them with a lot of energy. It never feels like Ritchie is trying to impress his audience with too much style; rather, he is depicting fights and shootouts with an objective quality, and the impressiveness is merely a consequence.
The dialogue can be a bit stilted at times, but overall, the film works due to its grim and unique style. The audience is always left second-guessing events and the characters’ motivations, and scenes in the film take on deeper meanings as the film goes on.
Overall, you can’t go wrong with Ritchie and Statham. They make for a great duo, and I love the grounded nature of this film. While it has a few underdeveloped characters and familiar tropes, there is fun to be had in the film’s twists and gunshots.
Grade: ★★★✬☆ [7/10, B-]
Wrath of Man is now playing in theaters.
Rating: R for strong violence throughout, pervasive language, and some sexual references