Oh my God!
Writer/director Guy Ritchie is clearly of the opinion that there has been a sad absence of casually homophobic and sexist banter in action cinema over the last thirty years and not realising why this is a good thing, has taken it upon himself to redress the balance by cramming the whole three decades worth into the first twenty minutes of this movie.
I’m not actually sure how else this could have happened. It isn’t that they are trying to depict a certain bullish antiquated subculture because the dialogue adds nothing to the characterisation of the team of armoured cash truck drivers this film centres on. It must just be that Ritchie and star Jason Statham, the other writers, the producers and the execs all thought it was somehow a great idea. It’s not offensive because it is so childish, but it is ignorant and unnecessary.
Mind you, the film has a weird, totally unironic macho version of a Bond title sequence where the dancing women are replaced by trucks, guns and scowling men, mixed with random images from Milton’s Paradise Lost, so I guess I should have known we were heading for something full of unapologetic rampaging masculinity.
The other question then is why I kept watching. That’s simple. This is another of those films where Jason Statham walks in all silent and broody, to an environment full of the promise of violence, and there is building tension before the ticking time bomb of kick ass inevitably explodes. It may have been heavily punctuated by poor script choices but that is still quite compelling. Statham is a great screen presence and as an intense action performer he is captivating.
He’s not played this kind of part for Ritchie before though. When they started out together in Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch, Statham was just one of the director’s out of his depth cockney qeezers. He has carved out a different persona since and he brings this back to the partnership. Even Revolver, that they made together and which came after Transporter 1 and 2 had started Statham on his current road, fell back on what they had done before rather than building on the martial arts and marksman prowess he is now known for. Sadly Ritchie doesn’t seem to know what to do with this version of Statham.
Ritchie’s aim is clearly to give things a harder edge which actually translates to making Statham’s Patrick Hill into a total psychopath. There is pleasure in seeing him give the underestimating bad guys what is coming to them but he’s a little harder to root for than he has been before.
Wrath of Man, never quite justifies its existence. It is a fairly standard heist/revenge thriller and will divert you for the two hours it runs for but isn’t very original or surprising. Certainly it doesn’t do enough to eclipse its early errors and while it moves away from the toxic dialogue once the gunplay starts, it just replaces these with other outmoded cliches.
The Ripley Factor:
There is one woman among the crew of security guys and she is suitably tough in this blokey crowd. Unfortunately any efforts here are undermined as soon as she jumps into bed with the hero like it’s 1989. Of course she does. Sigh!