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Film Review: “Wrath of Man” Is Best At Its Most Brutal

Written by: Hannah Tran | May 6th, 2021

Film poster: “Wrath of Man”

Wrath of Man (Guy Ritchie, 2021) 2 out of 4 stars.

Guy Ritchie’s latest action thriller may be high on action, but it is often low on thrills. This story about a man who poses as an employee of a cash-truck service as a front to get revenge on the people who killed his son may contain many interesting narrative and technical elements, but they rarely seem to come together at the right time. Nevertheless, these elements, which are largely composed of its edgy characters, gruesome action and surprising plot turns, do make for what is likely Ritchie’s most captivating work of late.

It’s a familiar story, but Ritchie’s direction, while perhaps lacking a discernible personality, feels altogether confident and still finds fresh ways to make it engaging. Teaming up once more with Jason Statham (Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw), he creates a character who is genuinely mysterious and gripping, even if his general absence of emotion often feels at odds with his motivation. And although it looks and feels much like any recent movie of its genre, there are also a handful of impressive shots that elevate these finer moments.

Jason Statham in WRATH OF MAN. Photo credit: Christopher Raphael ©2021 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc. All Rights Reserved

However, with its bloated runtime and uninviting structure, these sequences can feel especially wanting. The beginning is bogged down by over-explained exposition, while the middle grows more confusing as it sloppily juggles its side plots and tension-killing shifts in time. And despite its profuse use of cuts within each scene, it has a tendency to drag in the middle that exhausts its audience just in time for the action-packed finale. What action it does have, however, allows us to forgive an occasionally lackluster middle.  The violence itself, moreover, is just sleek enough and certainly vicious enough to please its target audience.

This mixed pacing matches its mixed tone. While cold and serious, it often is so to a fault. Although exciting, its tone tends to limit the sense of fun. The few lines intended as jokes feel awkward and out of place. This isn’t helped by a repetitive and near-constant use of a score that may be perfectly fine on its own but feels just as self-serious and limiting when used here. If you think too much about the muddled tone, structure, and suspense, it’s easy to write Wrath of Man off as another forgettable action flick. On the other hand, if you choose to focus on the enjoyable plotline, sleek action, and capable performances, Ritchie’s latest can definitely serve as a familiar but welcome return to the type of summertime entertainment we’ve all been missing. 

Laz Alonso in WRATH OF MAN. Photo credit: Christopher Raphael ©2021 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc. All Rights Reserved

Hannah Tran is a film critic and filmmaker from Las Vegas, Nevada. Hannah works as a film screener for the Las Vegas Film Festival and publishes an independent zine focused on highlighing Asian American filmmaking.

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