VOD film review: Wrath of Man
Ivan Radford | On 11, Dec 2021
Director: Guy Ritchie
Cast: Jason Statham, Holt McCallany, Josh Hartnett, Niamh Algar, Rob Delaney, Eddie Marsan
If you were worried that Guy Ritchie was about to retreat back into his early filmmaking oeuvre after The Gentleman, Wrath of Man is a welcome reminder that the Lock, Stock and Sherlock Holmes director is always looking to try something new, from remaking Aladdin to rebooting The Man from UNCLE. Here, he goes serious for a crime flick with a muscular momentum – it’s Guy Ritchie’s answer to Michael Mann’s Heat.
The thriller begins with a heist on an armoured truck, one that puts several security employees out of action. Enter “H”, a mysterious new employee at Fortico Security. He’s confident, he’s ruthless and he’s played by Jason Statham – you immediately know that there’s more to him than meets the eye. What exactly that is we find out as a string of flashbacks unfold, peeling back the layers of his hyper-masculine persona, as well as the motivations, secrets and bonds that sit between his colleagues, including Bullet (Holt McCallany), Boy Sweat Dave (Josh Hartnett) and the tough-talking Dana (an excellent Niamh Algar).
Based on French film Le Convoyeur, the premise is propulsively straightforward, yet strangely over-convoluted, as portentous chapter titles and a lengthy runtime get so distracted trying to wrap things up complex twists that the middle section almost falls apart entirely – and that’s once you’ve made it through a first act full of stereotypically homophobic blokey banter.
But what becomes clear is that it isn’t necessarily the script that’s up and down, it’s just the absence of Jason Statham to make it click into place. Reuniting with Ritchie for the first time since Snatch more than 15 years ago, he’s well cast in a role that taps into his brooding charisma rather than saddle him with cheesy one-liners. When Wrath of Man remembers to keep that simmering anger front and centre, it’s a lean, mean ride packed with menacing purpose. When it forgets, the Heat goes off the boil.