Wrath of Man

Wrath of Man ★★★½

Grade: B

What begins as a relatively straightforward account of an armored heist gone wrong starts spiraling outward into a bullet riddled fable of old-testament vengeance and retribution. Guy Ritchie's 'Wrath of Man' utilizes his front man's glowering ferocity and single-minded, sociopathic persona to deliver pain and punishment. Jason Statham hasn't headlined a Ritchie project since Revolver, nearly 16 years ago. Since then, the mans brow has furrowed at least two fold, and his actorly range of motion now encompasses a bit of "You're fucked" as well as a smidge of "Why don't you suck your own dick." In the realm of hard boiled avenging angels of death, those aren't bad tools to have at your disposal.

That's not to say Jason Statham is a bad actor or anything along those lines. I spent my teen years (and all of my 20's so far) rooting for the suave Britt with the rugged 5 o'clock shadow and the perfectly tailored suits to make his way around the international circuit, taking out human trash. There's no less garbage to dispose of in this movie either. Statham plays a man known simply as H, new to the team of armored vehicle escorts that transport millions in cash around the dangerous streets of LA. One armored car gets held up and the heist goes really, REALLY wrong. A dead driver and a few civilians get dusted in the crossfire. H comes on board, suspiciously cool headed in the face of robbers, and he guns the men all down without so much as blinking. Who exactly is this slick and proficient outsider? Why is he so capable at killing?

Ritchie's latest takes its time doubling back with details and flashbacks to fill in the gaps. We get a peak at the fateful heist from a few different perspectives, and then we get the narrative lowdown on the targets involved right around the midpoint. Yet even with all the sidewinding and skullduggery with the structure of 'Wrath of Man', this is a more straightforwardly satisfying vengeance ballad then you might expect from Ritchie. His punk British gangster aesthetic seeps in around the edges in fits in starts. The machismo and gristly guy-centric banter is still here; this is still a testosterone boosted, knuckleheaded Guy Ritchie joint. If you can vibe with his more juvenile impulses, you can certainly stick around when the mechanics of his crime and punishment saga reach their full 'fire and brimstone' crescendo. Ritchie can still stage and propel an action sequence to go along with all the righteous killing and bodies pilling up.

Wrath of Man fancies itself to be a bit higher class of pulp anti-heroism then it really is. It has its veins of comedy that bubble up in the supporting cast mostly, but this Ritchie project plays it straight for the most part. This is a good solid revenge story with no real gray area to muddy up the blood lusting fun. There really are no good men in this movie. The tit for tat violence and comeuppances really shouldn't mean much to us as an audience. Somehow they do though. Somehow when Statham punches someone's ticket with a bullet to the head, we buy that justice has been served. Everyone pays for their soul in blood when they take that elevator down.

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