Sign up for our weekly newsletter
Confetti - Do It For Real

Film Review: Wrath of Man

15 December 21 words: George White

Guy Ritchie and Jason Statham team up again for Wrath of Man, a fun if imperfect tale of revenge...

Director: Guy Ritchie
Starring: Jason Statham,  Holt McCallany, Rocci Williams
Running time: 119 minutes

A Guy Ritchie film starring Jason Statham on a bloodthirsty quest for revenge? How original. And, yes, if originality is what you’re after, Wrath of Man is definitely not for you. However, if you fancy a bit of easy viewing, featuring an intriguing story and some gritty violence, maybe check this one out. It won’t be winning any awards, but it certainly isn’t the worst thing from either Ritchie’s or Statham’s filmography list. It’s pretty simple and pretty fun, and, well, little else besides. 

The film follows Statham’s H, a mysterious chap who joins a security firm to avenge the death of a loved one. What follows is a twisted timeline of deception, death and enough curse words to make Liam Gallagher cringe (although only the one C-word, believe it or not). It’s nothing new, nothing mind-blowing, but its simplicity is what makes it work. 

While Statham pretty much never leaves second gear here, his character is a satisfyingly skilled, single-minded son-of-a-gun, and, despite being a bit of a bastard himself, the audience can just about get behind his cause. The time-jumping narrative structure works well, with certain revelations proving surprisingly surprising, and investment in the character’s story grows exponentially as time goes on. 

Some of the action is genuinely gripping, the grounded nature of Ritchie’s camerawork fully immersing the viewer in this brutal, unpredictable world. Tension builds slowly and steadily as the film progresses, culminating in a nail-biting final act that feels properly earned. Despite its lack of originality, this does manage to keep things engaging.

While there are elements of humour throughout, Wrath of Man comes dangerously close to taking itself too seriously

Where Wrath of Man falters, however, is in its dialogue. As was the case with The Gentlemen, writer-director Ritchie fails to grasp the concept that simply dropping in swear words doesn’t make characters interesting or intimidating. In between the cursing, there is shocking lack of sophistication, with many of the cast practically given caricatures to work with. Holt McCallany, as fellow security guard Bullet, gets perhaps the most complex and rewarding job, and he pulls it off well - but the talents of Josh Hartnett, Babs Olusanmokun and Niamh Algar, in particular, feel wasted. 

The movie also gives off the impression that it thinks it’s better than it is, displaying arthouse sensibilities without having the intelligence to back it up. While there are elements of humour throughout, Wrath of Man comes dangerously close to taking itself too seriously - which, considering it involves one character making a dramatic recovery after their torso is riddled with bullets, certainly should not be the case. 

That said, if you as a viewer avoid taking the film too seriously, there is a lot of fun to be had here. Avoiding the outright ridiculousness of the Mechanic series, but failing to supply the groundbreaking inventiveness that made the likes of Snatch so unique, this is neither the best nor worst that Ritchie has had to offer. It might not be a sin, but it’s no dream either. 

Did you know? This is the fourth collaboration between Jason Statham and director Guy Ritchie after previously working together on Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch and Revolver.

Wrath of Man is now available to watch on Amazon Prime Video.

We have a favour to ask…

LeftLion is Nottingham’s meeting point for information about what’s going on in our city, from the established organisations to the grassroots. We want to keep what we do free to all to access, but increasingly we are relying on revenue from our readers to continue. Can you spare a few quid each month to support us?

Support LeftLion now