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Disappointment of Man

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The thing with first run movies hitting streaming quickly or at the same time as theatrical releases, is that I see movies a lot earlier than I would. I highly doubt I would have seen Wrath of Man in the theatre. The last Jason Statham movie I saw in the theatre was The Transporter 2, and the last Guy Ritchie movie I saw in the theatre was Sherlock Holmes.

The bottom-line is that I would hesitantly recommend Wrath of Man for Jason Statham fans, and give it a 3 invincible armoured car guards out of 5 (would have been a 2 without Statham). There are parts of a fun action movie here, but additional storylines dilute it and actually ruin parts of the core for me.

Wrath of Man poster with Jason Statham looking sombre in a suit

I think I would have been upset if I had seen Wrath of Man in the theatre, specifically because of the cost. If I had paid good money for this specifically rather than for the streaming service that showcased it, I would have been kind of upset.

Now, if what you want is plenty of Jason Statham, you’ll get plenty of Jason Statham—though less Jason Statham than the grease fight in The Transporter. If what you want is a compelling story, good pacing, and strong characters . . . well . . . no.

Guy Ritchie has never been known for deep characterization, but his usual character shorthand—like in Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, or Snatch—worked really well to actualize the characters in a very short period of time, allowing large casts of memorable characters. That doesn’t happen in Wrath of Man. I think there was an attempt to do it, but it failed. It could be that I was more forgiving of movies in 2000 than I am in 2021, but I didn’t find any of the characters in Wrath of Man compelling.

And while the action was fine, it wasn’t memorable. There was way too much torture and way too little fisticuffs.

Part of that ties into the story structure, in which there are basically three movies run concurrently in this one. The basic idea of a badass going undercover in an armoured car company to find the inside man responsible for the rubbery in which badass’ son was killed worked. The added layers actually added nothing but unnecessary complexity and torture. Lots of torture.

To some degree it is interesting in that the torture forces people to talk, but does not get the perpetrators any useful intelligence. That’s the basic takeaway from any study on torture—it will absolutely get people to talk, but the information is untrustworthy and often simply false as people will say anything to get the torture to stop.

The torture is part of criminal Jason Statham’s attempt to find out who killed his sone, but this does not move the story forward to any appreciable degree, does not add insight to the main character, and actually makes him much less sympathetic. When it ends—with the character no further ahead except for the belief that it must have been an inside job, it has no further impact on the story. It explains one throw-away scene earlier in the movie that didn’t actually need to exist, so it adds nothing except minutes to the run time. The ‘it must have been an inside man’ could have been a quick scene with his gang, where they have exhausted all their leads but this one.

And then there is the storyline of the crew responsible for the robbery that killed badass’ son and which will intersects again with the core story near the end. Again, this adds nothing to the movie but more characters. There may have been an attempt to make them sympathetic—the leader is a devoted family man!—but it does not. They are murderers, and expect to murder again in the pursuit of wealth. They are not sympathetic to me at all.

So, in the end, there is a core story that has some good action and there are two additions to it that may have been intended to add complexity or expand on characters, but does not bother to do either. In that core story, it was fun watching Jason Statham be Jason Statham, but the torture scenes ruined that—I stopped having sympathy for his character—and the storyline of the robbery crew that killed his son again added nothing.

And there is no wrath because of that, just disappointment. Which is way, way worse.

You can learn more about Wrath of Man at Wikipedia or IMDB.