Wrath of Man (2021) ☆☆☆(3/4): Gritty and remorseless to say the least

Guy Ritchie’s latest work “Wrath of Man” is gritty and remorseless to say the least. While this is surely your average revenge action flick about a taciturn tough guy with a particular set of skills, it is at least packaged with considerable style and energy, and I was sometimes amused by the fateful inevitability of its plot even while observing the expected climactic mayhem from the distance.

After the striking opening scene which efficiently sets the overall tone of the movie, the first act of the movie begins with its hero getting hired by some well-known private security company in LA. Because the company has mainly handled the delivery of millions of dollars in cash everyday, its many security trucks are often targeted by those dangerous criminals out there, and, considering his fairly good resumé, our hero surely looks like well-qualified, though he barely passes the following tests for a number of skills including shooting and driving.

As he begins his first day under the guidance of a seasoned senior employee, everyone at his new workplace is very curious about him mainly because he does not talk much about himself while showing no interest at all in socializing with his new colleagues. For example, when he happens to be provoked by some cocky employee, he responds to this jerk with some sharp replies, but then he withdraws even though he seems to be well aware of that the dude is no more than a mere loudmouth.

And then an incident happens on one day. While our hero and that cocky employee are going through another workday as usual, they are suddenly ambushed by a bunch of gun-wielding criminals wearing masks, and, not so surprisingly, our hero’s partner instantly panics and squirms, but, what do you know, our hero does not lose any of his detached attitude at all. Once he spots a slip from one of the criminals, he swiftly takes care of that criminal in question, and the same fate soon falls on other criminals at the spot. 

Now you may complain that I exposed a spoiler to you, but, don’t worry, because the hero is played by none other than Jason Statham, who has been always good at bringing genuine toughness to his roles since he drew our attention via Ritchie’s early films “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” (1998) and “Snatch” (2000). While he can be funny and likable as shown from these two films, Statham can also be cool and intense as shown from “The Transporter” (2000) and “Crank” (2006), and his steely presence is utilized quite well here as he austerely carries the film as required.

As entering the second act mainly consisting of flashback scenes, the movie delves into the personal motive of Statham’s character, who turns out to have been quite wrathful toward whoever is responsible for the death of someone quite dear to him (Again, this is not a spoiler at all). There is a sad irony in that tragedy in fact, and that made him all the more devastated and vengeful, but, despite some help from certain people around him, he was going nowhere until he finally decided to get himself employed at that private security company with a hidden purpose behind his back. 

The screenplay by Ritchie and his co-writers Ivan Atkinson and Marn Davies, which is based on 2004 French action thriller film “Cash Truck”, subsequently takes another narrative turn as momentarily shifting its focus to the other substantial part of the story. I will not go into details for not lessening your entertainment, but I can tell you instead that I appreciate how a bunch of notable supporting performers including Raúl Castillo, Laz Alonso, and Scott Eastwood bring some personality and details to their rather functional roles. In case of Eastwood, you can promptly sense troubles from his character right from his first appearance, but then you will be surprised more as observing how nasty and treacherous his character can really be.

Around the eventual final act, we surely get lots of bangs and clashes along with lots of bullets in the air, and Ritchie and his crew members skillfully and confidently handle the actions unfolded on the screen without losing any control at all. Although you may not care that much about the fates of many of the characters in the story, the movie still holds our attention via its sheer intensity, and the resulting finale feels explosively inevitable instead of merely predictable.

With Statham holding the center as usual, several other cast members around him hold each own place well on the whole. While Josh Hartnett and Eddie Marsan bring a little sense of humor to the film, Holt McCallany, who has been more notable since his breakthrough turn in Netflix TV drama series “Mindhunters”, and Niamh Algar are also solid in their respective parts, and Andy Garcia savors every minute of his brief appearance in the film.   

In conclusion, “Wrath of Man” may not bring anything particularly new to its genre territories as reminiscent of many other gritty and violent crime films such as “Heat” (1995), but I will not deny that I was more entertained than expected when I watched it at a big Dolby Cinema screening room during this Sunday afternoon. Although I still personally think Danish film “Riders of Justice” (2020) did a better job as having more personality and humor in comparison, “Wrath of Man” is still engaging enough as packed with enough entertaining elements, and, along with Ritchie’s previous film “The Gentlemen” (2019), it surely shows us that Ritchie is indeed back in his element.

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