Jason Statham and Guy Ritchie are reunited in “Wrath of Man”, a chronicle of revenge narrated from contrasting perspectives.
Guy Ritchie ‘s a bit like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates: you never know which one you’ll be getting. From his solid beginnings with “Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels” and “Snatch”, references of an entire era of noir, Richie is just as nimble at delivering highly entertaining remakes of popular icons (the two installments of “Sherlock Holmes”, or the monumentally sophisticated “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.”), patchy flicks but which do have their own, je ne se quoi like “The Gentlemen”, “King Arthur: Legend of The Sword”) or all-out disasters that don’t even seem to be of his hand (“Swept Away”, “Aladdin”). With “Wrath of Man”, a relatively free remake of French film “Le convoyeur” (“Cash Truck”), he reunites with longtime friend Jason Statham to offer the best side of both. Because even though it’s a thriller that openly plays with many unbreakable codes of the genre, the movie is neither the typical mischievous and self-conscious Ritchie pic nor does it turn into the classic showcase vehicle at the service of our protagonist. That’s why it is so surprising and, in the end, so good, because beyond the odd narrative pitfalls and prizewinning ‘stating the obvious’ dialogue from time to time, it is a magnificent repackaging of the classic tale of revenge. One that doesn’t loan itself to revealing too much about the storyline, that is unless your intention is to torpedo the (multiple) plot twists.
“Wrath of Man” involves a host of souls coexisting in one singular harmony. In some respects the movie might even be classed as a tribute to the extraordinary “Once Upon a Time in The west” by Sergio Leone, with this enigmatic cowboy of few words, drawing up a plan for revenge that seems to have been drawn up in the very depts of hell itself; in terms of the use of the setting (Los Angeles) there’s an aura of the Michael Mann in the air, also when it comes to the thunderous echoes of the shoot outs; not to mention the fashioning of the leading character, a man of almost mythological dimensions, you wouldn’t be mistaken if you might clearly discern several ingredients from the mischievous structure of “The Usual Suspects”. And it’s our leading man where the film truly hits on one of its principal success factors. Instead of presenting the eternal villain hell bent on dishing out the typical dose of justice, Ritchie invites audiences to empathize with a man who constantly breaks with the moral bullheadedness of the avenging angel. It is, in essence, the dark side of the demiurges of the genre, and it is here where the film manages to punch well above its weight and become a criminal portrayal as brutal as it is evil.
It helps, above all, that Ritchie is particularly inspired. This isn’t the first time we see him breaking with narrative structures, presenting contrasting perspectives on the same event or flirting with the hidden facets of the theoretical heroes of the function. But it is one of the first times that we see him do it with this level of gravity and rigor. “Wrath of Man” has no time for messing around: it’s is as fast-paced, crude and dark as the protagonist himself, and in several scenes (such as the climax in the armored car company depot, filmed with a meticulous sense of planning and editing) convey stellar levels of tension . Statham’s charisma furnishes additional value to the project, filling the screen and contributing decisively to the show taking on a biblical revenge tone. In a time of digital blood and explosions, it comes as a fresh breath of air to come across a movie where the hard knocks hurt and the individuals casted are ambivalent and perverse. Looks like the reunion really went well for these British lads, and the good news is that they’re already shooting another film together. Excellent news indeed.