REVIEW: ‘Wrath of Man’ Lands Exactly in the Middle

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Wrath of Man

Jason Statham and revenge movies go hand-in-hand. In fact, Statham movies in the “something bad happened someone close to me so I must bring justice” films are some of my favorites to watch. So, when I first saw the trailer for Guy Ritchie’s latest film Wrath of Man, I was excited. That said, don’t go into the film with this expectation. Directed by Ritchie and written by him, Ivan Atkinson, and Marn Davies, Wrath of Man is based upon the film: “Le Convoyeur” Written by Nicolas Boukhrief and Éric Besnard. The film has a cast filled with some great names in addition to Statham, it stars Holt McCallany, Jeffrey Donovan, Josh Hartnett, Laz Alonso, Raúl Castillo, Deobia Oparei, and Scott Eastwood.

Wrath of Man follows a mysterious and wild-eyed new cash truck security guard H (Jason Statham) who surprises his coworkers during a heist in which he unexpectedly unleashes his precision skills handling a firearm. After that, his crew is left wondering who he is and where he came from. Throughout the first half of the film, His ultimate motive becomes clear as he takes dramatic and irrevocable steps to settle a score. That said, there is one element to the film that isn’t apparent from the trailer or official synopsis: the heist.

Told through a non-linear storyline Wrath of Man maps out H’s path to his job as an armored truck driver, helping delivers large sums of money. The film opens with the mystery surrounding H but when the focus shifts to the people who harmed someone close to him, so does the film. Sure it’s about the group that he’s after, but the film quickly shifts genre to a standard heist film. Our first section of the film shows H becoming a driver and showcasing his skill. The next act dives into his crime-filled past and explains how he got into his current job, with cards detailing the jumps in time between past and present. Then we have the section of the film that dives into the heist, the perpetrators’ past, and why they’re doing what they are. Finally, everything collides in one final heist that brings the revenge-focused H and the group of men responsible for blowing his life apart. For the sake of not spoiling the film’s twisting narrative, I have to be vague, but I promise you, the non-linear story makes it just as confusing.

This shift in tone and direction combined with the non-linear storytelling causes each part of the film to film too disconnected. In fact, as a revenge film, Wrath of Man works well with Statham able to carry his usual role with ease with equal parts smartass remarks and intimidating presence. Then, in the next section, at quite literally the half-point marked by the change in the title card, we shift perspective to that of the robbers who changed the course of H’s life. We learn their motive, their group dynamic, and watch them plan multiple heists before witnessing the heist that changed H’s life from their perspective. The last fourth of the movie attempts to bring it all together but the confrontation quite literally feels like a clash not just in action pay-off but in tones and film.

Now, don’t get me wrong, each part of Wrath of Man works on its own. The actors in each piece hold their own but when pulled together, it’s hard to understand why the story was told the way it is. Not only are there different genres in play, but different ways of telling the story. Elements of revenge and mob movies take the focus in the first half of the film, using mystery and dark lighting, and then the film switches to a heist mapped out with voice-over, diagrams, and intrigue. This sharp difference makes the beginning of the film stick out like a sore thumb. The opening chapter of the film, as each section lives partitioned by a title card setting the tone, feels too light, too fun.

In truth, I don’t know how to qualify a film that works in sections but not as a whole. In fact, it feels almost like vignettes pulled together like an anthology more so than one story. Additionally, the film’s script is hit or miss. Sometimes the humor and profanity work, mostly when said by Statham, and other times it feels forced into the film like it just had to be said versus then naturally occurring in a character’s vocabulary. That said, what Wrath of Man does well, it does fantastically. Specifically, the action sequences are well mapped out well and the film’s cast carries their roles well.

Wrath of Man isn’t bad, but it’s too disjointed at times which makes the storytelling and tone hard to follow. The easiest way to explain the film is that it’s good technically, but it’s marred by unusual decisions that make it hard to enjoy to immerse yourself in. This makes the film a toss-up overall. It can work for some, but it’ll fail for some too. So, Wrath of Man, like its narrative just sits in the middle. It straddles genres and quality as well. But, if you love Statham, it is worth taking the leap into.

Wrath of Man is playing in theaters May 7, 2021. 

Wrath of Man
  • 5/10
    Rating - 5/10
5/10

TL;DR

Wrath of Man isn’t bad, but it’s too disjointed at times which makes the storytelling and tone hard to follow. The easiest way to explain the film is that it’s good technically, but it’s marred by unusual decisions that make it hard to enjoy to immerse yourself in. This makes the film a toss-up overall. It can work for some, but it’ll fail for some too. So, Wrath of Man, like its narrative just sits in the middle. It straddles genres and quality as well. But, if you love Statham, it is worth taking the leap into.