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Review: Wrath of Man (2021)

Wrath of Man (2021)

Directed by: Guy Ritchie

Premise: A remake of the 2004 film Le Convoyeur. A mysterious new employee (Jason Statham) of an armored car company investigates a truck robbery. Meanwhile, a team of decommissioned US servicemen plan a heist.

What Works: Filmmaker Guy Ritchie has frequently made movies about underworld and streetwise characters as seen in Snatch, Revolver, and The Gentlemen. Wrath of Man finds Ritchie back in familiar territory but with a very different style and tone. Wrath of Man is colder and more brutal than anything Ritchie has done before. The characters are of realistic dimensions.  Although the movie has some of the macho posturing seen in Ritchie’s other crime pictures, Wrath of Man doesn’t have the goofiness of those films. That’s an appropriate choice. Wrath of Man is about a character grieving the loss of his son and searching for the killers and the whole film has a tense atmosphere of violence reminiscent of the original Death Wish. Jason Statham’s performance is consistent with that tone. It’s a subtle performance and this is an excellent showcase of the way Statham can command a scene with minor inflections of his voice and posture. Guy Ritchie also shakes up his filmmaking style. He’s often a very kinetic filmmaker especially in the Sherlock Holmes films and his 2017 King Arthur movie. By comparison, Wrath of Man is very restrained and the movie benefits from that stylistic choice. The camera moves and the editing are very precise with excellent framing and depth with the characters and the action moving from the background to the foreground and vice versa. Wrath of Man does retain Ritchie’s predilection for nonlinear storytelling but this film presents events in a very deliberate way. The shifts between past and present are clear and the juxtapositions change and enrich our understanding of characters and events.

What Doesn’t: The filmmaking and performances of Wrath of Man are first rate. It’s disappointing then that the film is ultimately superficial. The movie succeeds as a heist thriller and a revenge tale but there isn’t any more to the film than that. Wrath of Man is positioned to say something broader or deeper about capitalism, violence, greed, or masculinity but the filmmakers never reach beyond what’s right in front of them. That’s most evident in the abrupt ending. Nothing is really affirmed or revealed and the filmmakers settle for technical competence instead of aspiring to greatness.

Bottom Line: Wrath of Man is Guy Ritchie’s best film since Snatch.  It’s focused and efficient filmmaking with an involving emotional core and visceral action sequences.

Episode: #851 (May 16, 2021)