“Wrath of Man” – You think you’re soooo clever.
One of the things I enjoy the most about writing movie reviews is learning new things. For instance, did you know Guy Ritchie was nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award (Razzie) for worst director? And if you were guessing for which movie, it was not for King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, but some random movie called Swept Away starring his then-wife Madonna? Yeah, that Madonna. See? It’s fun learning new things. I also learned that Ritchie’s latest film, Wrath of Man, is a step down from his previous film, The Gentlemen.
(SPOILER ALERT, but if you watch the film, you’ll have it figured out well before the halfway point.)
Wrath of Man continues Ritchie’s streak of movies featuring nobody you should be rooting for. Bad guys vs. really bad guys, where the bad guys are sophisticated and well-spoken and the really bad guys stuck their noses into the business of the bad guys and also don’t dress well. Wrath of Man opens with an armored car robbery, shot from a very interesting perspective. For much of the scene, we cannot see the driver of the armored car, but we can hear him talking to his partner, who we can see, in the passenger seat. This immediately grabbed my attention, seeming to be a setup for a reveal later in the film. Who is the driver? When are we going to hear his voice again? Is he going to part…oh, there he is; nevermind. Guess he probably isn’t important. This will become the recurring theme of this film – disappointment.
The Ritchie movies I enjoy are the ones that are clever. Sherlock Holmes, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Gentlemen. I do not enjoy the ones where Ritchie thinks he is being clever, but is wrong. Wrath of Man is basically John Wick, but if the killer had a believable reason for a murder spree, not a stolen car and strange puppy. Patrick Hill (Jason Statham) is hired as a new guard at an armored truck company. A few days into the job, his partner is taken hostage and the thieves demand the money in truck. Hill goes half Wick on the thieves, killing each with a single headshot, but without all the fancy choreography. In the debriefing with the chief (Eddie Marsan), a couple of lawyers question why Hill is so awesome, and Hill mumbles some of that famous Statham cockney that requires the viewer to turn on closed-captioning. Then, we see Andy Garcia on the phone with the two lawyers, also mumbling some famous Garcia, um, cockney? Whatever it is, he’s nearly as unintelligible as Statham and I quickly forgot that those men existed.
At this point, Ritchie tries to get clever, but fails. The film jumps ahead three months to the next attempted robbery, this time foiled by Hill defying tear gas and scaring off the bandits with a look. I am not making that up – he takes the cloth off his face he was using to thwart the gas and the thieves hightail it out of there. Then, the film jumps backward five months to show us why Hill joined the armored car company, giving us a different perspective of the robbery that opened the film. Unfortunately, it further cemented the fact that the driver was not an important person with a cool back story, just the catalyst for Hill’s revenge.
Once all of the players are revealed, we still have forty-five minutes left of foregone conclusion. Namely, the completion of Hill’s revenge. You’ll be disappointed in how that conclusion plays out, straining your suspension of disbelief to the point where your eyebrow almost flies off your forehead. Even more disappointing is the lack of quick wit that usually fills out Ritchie screenplays. In its place is a bunch of stilted dialogue and cringe-worthy homophobic jokes that would have been out of place even in an 80’s Action flick. One character’s name is literally Boy Sweat. I rest my case.
Wrath of Man is nowhere near Razzie level, but it is a decidedly mediocre movie. If you are looking for a heist movie with a whole lot of shooting and killing, it fits the bill. An hour later, you will have a tough time remembering all but one character’s name and who you were supposed to be rooting for. Normally, it’s the guys with the great lines, but this time it’s the guy who kills and has nothing clever to say after. A lot like Ritchie this time around.
Rating: Ask for six dollars back and hope Ritchie’s next film is more Sherlock Holmes and less this.