Wrath of Man ★★

"'H.' Like the mushroom cloud. Or like Jesus H."

I dunno, man. Maybe we just all liked Guy Ritchie more a long time ago because we were younger and dumber.

I have no idea how last year's sexist, racist, and stupidly disappointing The Gentlemen has the rating that it does on here. It was not good. But most of you seemed to love that nonsense, because you were so desperate for the turn-of-the-century Ritchie we loved back in the day. Though, now I'm recalling I never really thought those films were that special, merely pretty good.

So his precipitous decline might make sense, because he was never so high to begin with. And so it goes for the Wrath of Man, a shoot-em-up thriller that doesn't thrill, a crime drama with little drama, and a testosterone-filled actioner that's just roided out.

An LA-based armored truck company welcomes a new and enigmatic employee, Patrick Hill (Jason Statham), yet one with stupendous references and recommended to his boss Terry (Eddie Marsan). New colleague Bullet (Holt McCallany) just calls him "H" and gets him acclimated to the job, but those references begin to look misplaced when he barely passes his orientation tests and ticks off Boy Sweat Dave (Josh Hartnett) by his quiet and standoffish demeanor. They are now partners, as Boy Sweat reminds him of the tragic murders that took place on a job not long ago.

But H is soon seen as a hero, for gunning down a crew who takes Bullet hostage and tries to rob the truck. The company is stunned by his cool under fire, including the FBI agents who interview him shortly thereafter. They report to a nameless contact (Andy Garcia) about him, and seem to know his m.o. despite his little public background. H's colleagues are both petrified and confused, but soon we find out his past has brought him directly to this point.

Unfortunately, the trailer spoiled more than my two paragraphs above, with regards to the main character's motivation. I won't reveal that here, also because it's lame.

Worthless title cards, skips forward and back by months or weeks, absolutely stupid nicknames. (Remind me about that last thing later; I have a great idea for a list.) Wrath of Man, structurally, is a complete mess for no goddamn reason. Based off a French film called Cash Truck, Ritchie and other screenwriters I don't care about needlessly obfuscate nearly everything, and introduce far more characters than you could ever be expected to remember or understand in a 119-minute film. Scott Eastwood is in the movie. So is Jeffrey Donovan. And Raúl Castillo. Fuck it, Post Malone too. He gets killed in the first five minutes though, so it's cool.

Anyway, this is a violent thriller about armored trucks in Los Angeles with a big shootout in the third act, but don't you dare compare it to Michael Mann's brilliant Heat. Double- and triple-crosses came fast and furious in that finale, though most of them are telegraphed and it's easy to know which of the bad guys will be the last one standing, with Statham of course. Again, there's no stakes here, since you know the hero is going to make it. That's probably my biggest gripe of so many action movies nowadays, that I can predict the whole thing in the first 15 minutes and whoever is top billed is gonna survive. Stop me if you're heard this before.

Are there worse films out there? Sure. This one though bugs me more, since it thinks it's so smart. Manly man bullshit, shit-for-brains "witty" banter, characters you barely get to know so you don't care when almost all of them get killed. An asinine script -- "He's a dark spirit," says someone in the section with the chapter title of "Dark Spirit." -- with no real payoff despite lots of loud bullets and yeah I guess that shootout was neat for a couple minutes, this is not worth seeing. But that's, like, Guy Ritchie's last 6 years of movies.

Friend who wrote a better review than me: WowMIKEWow.

Added to Guy Ritchie ranked.
Added to The Narrative Films of 2021, ranked.

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