WRATH OF MAN movie poster | ©2021 Miramax

WRATH OF MAN movie poster | ©2021 Miramax

Rating: R
Stars: Jason Statham, Holt McCallany, Jeffrey Donovan, Joshua Hartnett, Laz Alonso, Eddie Marsan, Scott Eastwood, Andy Garcia, Rocci Williams
Writers: Guy Ritchie and Marn Davies & Ivan Atkinson, based on the LE CONVOYEUR written by Nicolas Boukhrief and Eric Besnard
Director: Guy Ritchie
Distributor: Miramax
Release Date: May 7, 2021

WRATH OF MAN is, at heart, a traditional taciturn guy gets revenge actioner. It is livened up by director/co-writer Guy Ritchie’s likewise traditional-to-him narrative technique of telling the story with multiple flashbacks.

In the opening sequence, we see a Fortico Security armored truck get hijacked by a team of masked robbers. Two guards are murdered during the crime.

Three months later, our stoic hero, Patrick Hill (Jason Statham), applies for a job with Fortico in Los Angeles. We don’t need his new colleagues to tell us, although they do, that he seems a little too well-trained for the gig. And that’s before Hill takes out an entire other band of robbers when they attack his cargo.

So, who is Hill really? What’s he doing at Fortico? What is the significance of the robbery we see at the beginning? And how are the two connected?

The screenplay by Ritchie and Marn Davies & Ivan Atkinson, based on LE CONVOYEUR, written by Nicolas Boukrief and Eric Besnard, skips back and forth over the course of a year answering these questions.

There is a certain fatality to the tone that is more common to French crime cinema than the American/British equivalent in general, and to Ritchie in particular. There’s a lot of macho slang flying about, but this is a comparatively somber outing.

Typically, Ritchie’s adversaries on all sides are self-admiring, wise-cracking, well-bonded mates. Here, there are pockets of loyalty but little cheer or bravado. People are determined, or scared, but it’s not a game to anybody.

Hill is meant to be extremely capable and intimidating, qualities Statham embodies with ease. He’s backed by an excellent supporting cast that includes Holt McCallany as Hill’s genial security truck partner, Eddie Marsan as their cautious supervisor, Jeffrey Donovan as a former military leader, and Scott Eastwood as one of his men.

Andy Garcia has a role that is so ambiguous that we have to wait to read the closing credits to find out exactly what his character does. Since revealing this would make WRATH OF MAN more, rather than less, interesting, this is a case of taking mystery too far.

Ritchie has some great shootouts here, along with a few side excursions. However, WRATH OF MAN seems to be building towards a HEAT-type climax, only to veer away into something quieter, though fully appropriate to the story.

The title of WRATH OF MAN seems to invoke the notion that evildoers don’t have to wait around for the anger of the Almighty – fury from the right human can be just as devastating. For viewers who miss the days of vengeful Clint Eastwood or Charles Bronson characters, here’s a contemporary equivalent.

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