comrade_yui’s review published on Letterboxd:
as a frequent guy ritchie apologist, jason statham obsessive and michael mann maniac, wrath of man should absolutely be an easy movie for me to love. surprisingly, ritchie himself has never been more restrained than before here, abandoning his fast-paced editing rhythms, anarchic narrative control and bombastic boyish sense of humor for a heist thriller that emphasizes clean continuity, longer takes and a grounded, morose tone. one gets the sense that ritchie is using this as an exercise, proving finally to all his critics and fans that he can slow down, that he can modulate his usual chaos-cinema approach into a more measured display of process-oriented action, making his jocular crime-capers possess a formalist sense of tactile space rather than relying on slick needledrops, slow-motion particulates and crass dialogue. even more boldly, he dials back statham's playful acidic wit here, a far cry from the sly street tough physicalist that statham made his career excelling at.
but the paradox that results is that ritchie's usual effervescent energy that could easily communicate wrath of man's entire story within the span of 20 minutes is instead spread thin over a 2 hour runtime that isn't detailed enough to be compelling, nor agile enough to be smooth over ritchie's tendency towards narrative and emotional abstraction. none of the characters ever really get notable scenes to themselves, as the plodding but relentless plotting steamrolls all attempts at comedy or excitement. statham, under-served by a screenplay that engages in every possible attempt to portray him as a joyless psychopath, gets stuck mean-mugging the anonymously-portrayed cast, his role amounting to little significance in what is obstinately the main character of a film that has little for its characters to actually do outside of exchanging masculine clichés and dying in a hail of bullets. wrath of man in its totality emerges as a belabored feature-length trailer for a twisty heat-riff that refuses to establish its own thematics or ideas for the sake of a sterile deconstruction of ritchie's own strengths as an artist.
what should have been the glorious reunion of the dynamic statham-ritchie duo plays out in actuality as the stern, overcooked, aggressively non-fun mediation on simplistic vengeance that you'd have hoped they were both beyond at this point.