British filmmaker Guy Ritchie trims the fat to forgo his signature traits, witty banter, multi-layers, and offbeat characters, for a straight-up revenge thriller that resembles the kind of Hollywood vehicle that his leading man Jason Statham has become accustomed to. “Wrath of Man” delivers the fury it suggests with a predominantly male cast of familiar faces vying for screen time in the heist film that resembles a scaled-down version of Michael Mann’s “Heat.”
WRATH OF MAN (2021)
Jason Statham, Holt McCallany, Jeffrey Donovan, Josh Hartnett, Laz Alonso, Raúl Castillo,
Deobia Oparei, Eddie Marsan, Scott Eastwood, Andy Garcia
Directed by Guy Ritchie
Based on the 2004 French thriller “Le Convoyeur” (Cash Truck) by Nicolas Boukhrief and written by Ritchie along with Ivan Atkinson and Marn Davies, the film marks the director’s fourth collaboration with Statham after a sixteen-year hiatus. The two previously joined forces on “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels,” “Snatch,” and “Revolver.”
Statham plays Patrick Hill, nicknamed “H” by his new boss Bullet (Holt McCallany), the supervisor in charge at Fortico Security, an armored truck transport company whose fleet has been targeted recently by thieves. During the last robbery, lives were lost which indicates the criminals are getting sloppy or turning violent, either way, the situation is volatile.
During H’s training period, the new recruit barely passes the driving and shooting portions of the test but Fortico needs employees and so he’s paired with partner Boy Sweat Dave played by Josh Hartnett. After making his mark in horror films including “The Faculty” and big-budget action dramas like “Pearl Harbor” and “Black Hawk Down,” Hartnett turned in a terrific performance in the 2017 indie film “Oh Lucy!” The former teen heartthrob doesn’t have much to do in Ritchie’s film besides giving Statham’s character a hard time but he’s a welcomed addition to the cast.
After scoring a 70 on his entrance exam, it’s astonishing to see H take out an entire crew of would-be robbers as they attempt to hold up his armored truck while taking Bullet hostage. It’s the closest thing you’ll get to comedy in Ritchie’s film as an added bonus musician Post Malone has a cameo as one of the thieves.
Who is H? Fortico’s warehouse manager Terry (Eddie Marsan) has suspicions after the new hire’s brazen performance during the attempted heist, and while he has become a hero to his coworkers, H is also a bone of contention to a crew of ex-military criminals led by their former commander Sergeant Jackson (Jeffrey Donovan) who is planning L.A.’s biggest armored truck heist during the busiest shopping day of the year, Black Friday.
Ritchie uses Tarantino’s method of non-linear narratives by jumping around in the timeline to give us different perspectives of a certain scene. It can be a bit disconcerting but easy to navigate. While most of the players in the film are in the dark about H’s true identity, the audience is not so his actions correspond with his character’s motivation for revenge.
It’s great to see Statham back in the tough-guy spotlight doing what he does best instead of a member of a large ensemble of testosterone-loaded actors. Fans of Ritchie’s early work will welcome the director’s reunion with his leading man while moviegoers who discovered the British actor from the “Fast & Furious” franchise will get a taste of what the actor is capable of as a film’s driving force.
“Wrath of Man” is a satisfying crime thriller that once again confirms Ritchie as a multifaceted filmmaker — you can’t get more versatile than “Snatch” to “Aladdin” — and his latest hat trick involves a bare-bones Hollywood heist thriller that fires on all cylinders. And finally, can we get Andy Garcia in more films?
(3 ½ stars)
Opens in theaters today