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"Wrath of Man" 4K Review

 Jason Staham's first two movies were directed by Guy Ritchie - 1998's Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and 2000's Snatch - and those roles established his charismatic bullethead persona which rapidly set him towards a long career as go-to badass in the Transporter and Furry Fastness series. Their last collaboration was with 2005's Revolver, a movie so forgettably bad that all I remember thinking is that Ritchie needed to be prevented from making movies. Well, that obviously didn't happen, so it was inevitable that he and Statham would cross paths and they finally have with the dull and dour Wrath of Man

It's first act starts fairly promisingly, opening with a heist of an armored car from the perspective inside the car and radio chatter informing us that someone has shot the guards and a civilian. We then meet Statham's H - the nickname given his trainer, Bullet (Holt McCallany) - as he's hiring into the Fortico armored car company, the same outfit that got robbed in the opening. Barely passing his evaluation tests - 70% is passing and he scores 70%;  we know he's got to be sandbagging because he's Jason [freaking] Statham - he's put in the field riding with Bullet and Boy Sweat (Josh Hartnett). 

The reality of H is revealed when Bullet is taken hostage by robbers (more on this later) who order H and Boy Sweat to drive to an isolated area to exchange Bullet for the truck's money. During the transfer, H swiftly kills the six robbers (including a distractingly cast Post Malone which makes viewers stop and say, "Hey, isn't that Post Malone?"). When a later attempted heist results in the attacking gang fleeing when they realize H is in the truck, it raises questions amongst his co-workers as to who the heck this new guy is?

This is the first act and half-hour of Wrath of Man, the following 90 minutes which go into a time-jumping explanation as to who H is, why he's working at Fortico, and who is behind the opening heist which obviously has something to do with H. Due to a some unique details, you can't really discuss the plot beyond the opening with spoiling the twists. 

What can be discussed is how incredibly boring it all is. You'd think a revenge flick with super badass Statham would be crackling with energy, but Wrath of Man is a damp squib mistaking somnambulistic meandering for simmering tension.  The time-jumping storytelling makes things confusing, the mechanics of the gangs are vague, and the Big Action Finale is conducted so dully that it carries no weight. 

The  movie also constantly contradicts itself. At a crucial point, H is informed his service weapon has no bullets in it, but considering we've seen several scenes of him being handed his gun by the company armorer, how did this happen without his noticing. Another time we see him snag a co-worker's security badge from his pocket at a bar, but we never see him doing anything with it and much as been made of how the employees leave the badges in a rack next to the time clock. There's even a howler of a continuity error where a point is made about the color of a getaway car only to have the car be a different color. They couldn't get the right color car or fix the dialog in post?

Statham is wasted, exhibiting almost no action chops as he handing most of the dirty work off to minions. For a guy with a serious vendetta to settle, he's remarkably calm even as his associates question is methods. Even the cruelty shown is boring as Ritchie simply doesn't imbue anything with any urgency. Perhaps Ritchie was trying for a simmering rage vibe, but eventually that should boil over in some explosive cathartic fury, but Statham remains emotionally flat-lined throughout. 

The 4K HDR presentation is unimpressive other than perhaps giving more shadow detail in the dark chiaroscuro lighting. There is little HDR highlights to justify going above SDR HD quality.

Looking at Ritchie's filmography, you realize that he's really been coasting on Lock, Stock... and Snatch for 20 years and his decline into mediocrity and irrelevance coincides with his ill-fated marriage to likely succubus Madonna with whom he made the unintentional camp classic Swept Away and a son. While he's had commercial success with his Sherlock Holmes films and that live-action Aladdin remake(!!), I still think he should've been shut down after Revolver. His last attempt at getting back to his gangster roots, The Gentlemen, was also bland and forgettable and Wrath of Man further confirms he's simply not capable of mounting exciting crime dramas anymore. 

Score: 4/10. Skip it.


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