Thursday 7 October 2021

Movie Review: Wrath Of Man (2021)

A heist thriller, Wrath Of Man bolsters basic macho action with a sharp attitude and an engaging if unnecessarily convoluted plot.

In Los Angeles, a heavily armed gang violently robs a Fortico armoured truck full of cash. The two guards and one civilian are killed. The company, managed by Terry Rossi (Eddie Marsan), beefs up resources and training to try and discourage similar incidents. Experienced guard Patrick "H" Hill (Jason Statham) is one of the new recruits, and veteran Fortico employee Haiden "Bullet" Blaire (Holt McCallany) introduces him to the company's protocols. Another guard, "Boy Sweat" Dave Hancock (Josh Hartnett), resents H's aloof attitude.

H has an investigative agenda and wastes no time imposing his aura and seducing the only female guard Dana (Niamh Algar). He impresses everyone by single-handedly thwarting an attempted heist, then gains legendary status when his sheer presence scares off yet another gang. In flashbacks, his backstory is revealed: he has murky connections to both the underworld and enforcement agencies through the FBI's Agent King (Andy Garcia), and a very personal score to settle. Meanwhile, a gang of ex-military veterans led by Jackson (Jeffrey Donovan) and including the bloodthirsty Jan (Scott Eastwood) plots an audacious job.

Director and co-writer Guy Ritchie re-teams with star Jason Statham to create a high energy yet brooding adaptation of the novel Cash Truck by Nicolas Boukhrief. The four cinematic chapters titled A Dark Spirit, Scorched Earth, Bad Animals, Bad and Lungs, Liver, Spleen, Heart complement Wrath Of Man's titular mood and hint at the playful rage within. The movie rises above stock revenge cliches thanks to high production values, a clever flashback structure, a threatening music score, stylish action scene staging, and Statham's enduring charisma.

An inside mole, gangland wars, revenge most cold, and a half-baked enforcement operation combine for a thick plot featuring four separate groups competing for screen time. The armoured truck guards, Hill's core underworld colleagues, the FBI, and Jackson's crew create too many men (and just one woman) without enough screen time to properly connect them. The Scorched Earth chapter particularly suffers, violence layered upon violence while the dynamic between the Hill and Jackson factions fails to properly latch.

The crucial heist resulting in three deaths kicks-off the drama in the opening scene (filmed in one take and mostly from inside the truck), and is a worthwhile centrepiece. Ritchie returns to the event twice more from different perspectives to fill in the main character's roles. Several other action scenes inject regular doses of excitement, none better than Hill finally revealing his shooting skills and cool temperament by foiling a robbery in progress. The final climactic heist runs ragged and gets close to chaos, but with Statham in command, Wrath Of Man is in good hands.

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