A mysterious stranger takes a job as a security guard for an armored car company in Wrath of Man.
Patrick Hill (Jason Statham) is the right man at the right time to fill a high-risk vacancy at a large, local, cash-truck firm. They’ve been the target of several major heists, including a fairly recent hit that resulted in the grisly death of two guards.
His bosses quickly realize that he’s quite a bit more adept at the job than anyone expected when he dispatches would-be attackers as easily as one might flick an errant ant off an arm. It’s an ability that they simultaneously admire and fear. Perhaps there’s more to this nascent superhero than meets the eye.
Director Guy Ritchie gives another film his unique signature style in his latest since last year’s captivating entry The Gentlemen. As with most of his work, Wrath of Man isn’t without its issues.
The opening sequence is exactly what you’d hope for from Ritchie. It absolutely challenges the viewer to look away and wins the challenge with ease. We’re glued to the screen with a rare sense of complete immersion. This could easily have been a nightmare that we relive ourselves. I could take a lie detector test about being there myself and pass it with flying colors.
The magic then vanishes in an instant. Disjointed plot elements start raining out of the sky with unchecked rapidity. His supervisor tags him with the nickname “H,” using phrasing that instantly reminds us of Men in Black, only to then come to learn that no one else gets the same treatment. It’s filled with schlocky dialogue like, “I like the way you handle that cart.” That’d be intriguing if it was said by a would-be suitor and their intended target, but it’s instead uttered in stilted fashion by Hill’s supervisor. Huh?
Time and again, the action wins us back, only to have the plot drive us further to distraction. Ritchie bounces all over presenting out-of-sequence scenes as if he were editing this at a trampoline park. Most of those scenes are highlighted — boldly — by a score that wears us out with its ominous tones in a clear bid to distract us from further plot contemplation.
Ritchie introduces several critical elements, only to never fully explain them. Who exactly is Agent King (Andy Garcia)? I have no idea. Is Hill with the CIA? I have no idea. Is the CIA even involved? You guessed it. I have no idea.
As I hinted earlier, the action sequences are works of art. Ritchie’s eye for what works visually rarely disappoints, and it doesn’t here, either. As the lead, Statham is spot-on perfect for the role. His “H” character is more calm and reserved under fire than the Terminator. Josh Hartnett is a welcome addition since nearly falling off the Earth after 2006’s masterpiece Lucky Number Slevin.
I wanted to like this film so much more than I did. On the positive side, the only wrath here is that of Statham’s expertly performed “H.” On the downside, Ritchie left us to make far too many assumptions for a director of his experience.