Wrath of Man

Wrath of Man ★★★★

"A tree has been shook, and it's been shook hard. We've scorched the Earth."

Guy Ritchie's Too Old to Die Young, with a dash of HEAT and The Limey. As soon as the bold pulpy yellow font title credits plastered the beautifully dark cityscape of Los Angeles, I knew I was in for a treat. It shocks me that Ritchie hasn't collabed with Tarantino yet. Pardon this unsubtle hype-up, but this was Guy Ritchie flexing his muscles as a serious crime novel action/drama director, foregoing his usual—welcome—wit and humour to adapt 2004's Le Convoyeur. Not to be read in the tone that most people unjustly hate on Bay and Snyder, but you can feel Ritchie just wanking off to Wrath of Man, crafting a condensed crime tale with a scope that could easily be adjusted into an HBO mini-series à la True Detective. Presented in a gradually revealing non-linear fashion, with bookended chapters for each respective party of the plot's inciting incident, to most, this is going to feel bloated and far too slowburn, but as both a Statham and Ritchie stan, I loved every moody second of this subdued character narrative. Not just any actor can make the line "Did you make poopoo" sound cool. Ritchie gives himself plenty of time to breathe here—too much some may say—as he just unfolds this testosterone-fueled tale, as we piece it together.

I hesitate to say this is Ritchie's magnum opus, because in one part I want him to continue striving in his tough guy crime genre pursuits, and secondly he doesn't display all the tricks we know he has up his sleeves. But God damn, did I just completely vibe with this as it brought me back to the golden age of 60-70s crime films that I grew up watching as I bonded wirh my dad. You just know the likes of Steve McQueen, Lee Marvin, Clint Eastwood, and Elliot Gould would have been all over this project at the time, and Guy Ritchie knows you know as he cheekily yet unfittingly names one of the film's most charismatic characters (played by David Fincher regular, Holt McCallany), "Bullet." Jason Statham is obviously not everyone's cuppa, but this is both a physically and emotionally restrained role from him in the line of the underrated Hummingbird/Redemption. And yeah, the action icon does have emotion believe it or not, he's not just a master driver, tough guy with smoothly dry line delivery. It's so good to see him back again working with the man who found him peddling stolen goods in the streets of England, the first time back togerher since the also underrated Revolver. While Statham is undeniably the leading man here with his silent rage erupting within him, the film smoothly transitions around various characters and factions, seamlessly like switching characters in GTAV—which reminds me, that's now a film I can wholeheartedly see Ritchie being able to pull off if needed. A nice Sexy Beast Ray Winstone would have really sealed the deal. 

While Scott Eastwood is not a great actor, this is his second best performance behind last year's solid war film, The Outpost. He should stick to playing the scumbag, but I would have gladly preferred to see Jon Bernthal take the role (I'd also just like to see Bernthal with Ritchie and Statham in general). It was also fun to see Josh Hartnett (insert Chris cringe) in a main film role again, especially with a different hairstyle: a shame that Penny Dreadful didn't blossom more opportunities for him. Wrath of Man also has two minimal supporting roles (one is more of a glorified cameo) that I was not expecting, yet had me and my mother doing the Rick Dalton. 

PS: Jacky boy, you're going to love this one. 

PPS: Best use of The Man in Black's "Folsom Prison Blues" needledrop, that I've experienced. You could really feel the masturbatory flexing as it played. 

2021 RANKED (good for Niamh Algar being in two of my top 3 films of the year)




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