May 06, 2021
While hinged on a threadbare plot as familiar as it is forgettable, this sinewy action B-movie delivers just about enough primal entertainment
Wrath of Man review – Guy Ritchie and Jason Statham reunite in punchy thriller
The making of Jason Statham, from wheeler-dealer to swimmer to model to Actor to movie star, is owed in rather overwhelmingly large part to writer-director Guy Ritchie, who plucked him out of a French Connection campaign and into his first two films. Magnetic turns in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch paved the way for an unlikely yet robust career as a throwback action antihero, punching, shooting and wisecracking his way from DTV fare all the way up to blockbusting franchises. At the same time, Ritchie had made a similar leap, away from the laddish gangster capers that made him and instead, taking charge of studio tentpoles like The Man from Uncle, King Arthur and Sherlock Holmes, two boys done good, at least when it came to their bank balances.
But the simultaneously steep ascents came at a price. Statham’s shtick, often brilliantly subverted for comic effect (see: Spy), was also wearing thin when broadened out (see: The Meg), while Ritchie’s initial vigor had dulled with each project bigger than the last, with the anyone-could-have-directed-this anonymity of Aladdin feeling like a tipping point. His follow-up, 2020’s uneven comedy The Gentlemen, was an attempt to revisit former glories yet with a slicker skillset, and there’s a similar marriage of grit and gloss with his latest, bullish action thriller Wrath of Man, reuniting him with the Stath, an actor in need of more distinctive and distinguished direction.
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