“Wrath of Man” is director Guy Ritchie’s latest crime thriller. It’s also his fourth collaboration with action superstar Jason Statham. They last teamed-up on 2005’s “Revolver”. The two actually began their film careers together — 23-year ago: Ritchie a rookie director and Statham making his big-screen debut in the British crime comedy “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels”.
This time Statham plays H, a quiet, mysterious figure, with a special set of skills. And H is out for revenge.
That’s a basic summary the plot, which gets unnecessarily complicated over the two-hour runtime. Ritchie divides his narrative into a series of flashbacks and flash-forwards. Things do get off to a promising start. We meet H as he’s beginning a new job working for a cash truck company, based in L.A. Crews collect millions of dollars each a week from businesses around the city. Not surprisingly, the trucks attract the attention of bad guys — a lot of them. And, who knows, H may be one of those bad guys.
This role is custom made for Statham. He does a nice job drawing us into this world, and has some solid, early scenes. But midway through, once H’s true identity and motivation are revealed, “Wrath of Man” becomes just another heist movie. The entertainment value plummets and we’re forced to take some major leaps in logic, especially during the grand finale.
Ritchie’s recent films have run ‘hot and cold’ for me. I enjoyed his “Sherlock Holmes” efforts (the sequel is better than the original) and last years’s clever “The Gentlemen”. I’m not a fan of his takes on “King Arthur” and “Aladdin”. “Wrath of Man” falls right in the middle. It’s not as fun or intriguing as it should be — though I give the director credit for avoiding his trademark slow motion visual tricks this time.
The supporting cast, which includes Josh Hartnett, Scott Eastwood and Andy Garcia, gets little to do acting wise. This movie is mostly about bullets, blood and body count.
If you’re into films about planning and executing dangerous, complicated missions, “Wrath of Man” is for you. There are multiple scenes of “Here’s what we’re gonna do” and the follow-up “Here’s how we did it” — complete with hand-drawn maps and matchbox cars.
Richie and Statham aren’t waiting another 15 years to reunite. They’re already at work on their next collab, “Five Eyes”. Hope they have a tighter, more polished script to work with.
LCJ GRADE: C
Running Time: 118 min.