Wrath of Man is a good example of a movie exceeding expectations. Even if it’s just a slight change in elevation, it still counts in the long run.
Director Guy Ritchie (Snatch, RocknRolla, The Gentlemen) sets up the film as if Wrath of Man was another one of his gangster movies, with the differences being hard-hitting crooks are replaced by intimidating employees of an armoured truck company, and the European scenery has been swapped out for the washed-out streets of Los Angeles. Ritchie’s signature knack for character nicknames is still present though, calling attention to it right away by simply nicknaming a newly hired, enigmatic truck driver ‘H’ (Mechanic: Resurrection’s Jason Statham).
H may be a new hire, but he picks up quickly on surrounding, provocative attitudes from his coworkers. Movie goers, however, relate to H’s fellow employees in that we, purposely, can’t figure out Statham’s character. His charisma becomes isolating, and his self-defence skills are too threatening. But, it appears H may be concealing an ulterior motive that may be tied to a recent violent truck robbery that resulted in a young bystander being gunned down. As suspicions grow, H continues to investigate and his emotions boil more.
Separated by generically-titled chapters, the individual stories are not mature enough to be labeled as advanced character work (for a better example of that, watch Dragged Across Concrete). However, the stakes are raised decently enough for these roles within Wrath of Man’s layered structure – making the film’s material meatier than expected. Tabling his trademark quick-witted repertoire, the filmmaker gives viewers a more serious heist story that deconstructs a crime. Through its time-hopping narrative, Wrath of Man meticulously focuses on the contributing factors leading up to “a big job”, while also applying attention to scenes of intense gunplay.
The storytelling becomes a little long in the tooth during its final act which, unfortunately, loosens the grip the film has on its audience. But, Wrath of Man still has enough surprises to warrant a watch.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie