Writer/director Guy Ritchie has had an eclectic career in his twenty-two years in the movie business after making a splash with Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels in 1998. Yet, Ritchie, thankfully, never forgot his roots as a maker of crime films as that genre’s peppered throughout his filmography. However, I consider the director’s earnest return to crime films to be the criminally underrated and under-seen, The Gentlemen (2019). A crime-comedy that was released the same year Ritchie helmed the live-action remake of Disney’s Aladdin. (An iteration I never intend to see, despite my appreciation for this filmmaker.) Both of these pictures made quite a bit of money (with Aladdin ’19 crossing the billion-dollar mark. Thus, allowing Ritchie to re-team with his longtime collaborator, actor Jason Statham for the first time in fifteen years.
Together, this peanut-and-jelly-like pair brings us the gritty Wrath of Man– an English language remake of the 2004 French film Cash Truck (Le convoyeur). However, I’ve not seen the source material and admittedly did not realize the movie in review was a remake until watching the end credits. Wrath of Man follows a mysterious protagonist, who we only ever know as H (Statham). A Los Angeles transplant from across the pond, H gets a job as an armored truck guard with one of the premier independent security companies in LA County. But, it’s clear that H is not there for a job as his current station in life quickly reveals that there’s more going on than what we’re initially led to believe.
Now, I know that synopsis is quite vague. But, frankly, the less I say about the plot of this film, the better. Even still, I feel it’s crucial that you know this about Wrath of Man‘s narrative. On the surface, this movie seems like nothing more than your straightforward action vehicle driven by Jason Statham. Thankfully, though, this film is much more than that. First and foremost, Wrath of Man is much more of a crime-thriller (and one with very few jokes at that) than it is an action flick. Moreover, the film has a tone reminiscent of the dark and gritty crime films of the 1970s.
As such, if you’re not up for a tale of truly hardened criminals, you might not want to witness Wrath of Man. On the other hand, if you dig that particular genre as I do, then I cannot recommend this picture highly enough because Wrath of Man is so much more than its marketing suggests. Again, I don’t want to spoil too much, but I will say the story structure is novelistic. Thus, the movie and the mystery within can unfold in a much more exciting fashion with plenty of montage sequences, expertly cut together by Ritchie’s editor for the past decade, James Herbert, to move matters along. All of which works very well, even though you very well might see one of the plot twists coming.
Of course, part of what makes this story works so well and serves as an enhancement to it are the filmmaking style and the heavy atmosphere that Ritchie and another frequent collaborator of his, director of photography Alan Stewart. The dark and (what I imagine is at least a somewhat realistic) criminal underworld created in this film is nearly tangible. Undoubtedly, such palpability is because the director, his crew, and this film’s star are all at the top of their game. (Well, except for composer Christopher Benstead‘s score, which is a bit overbearing.) Now, by no means is Statham a world-class thespian. However, he’s perfect for the role of H- the strong, silent type of bad-ass.
If you haven’t seen the trailer or TV spots for Wrath of Man, I’d recommend you keep it that way. The less you know with this flick, the better off you’re going to be. While Wrath of Man is by no means a great film, it’s an exceptionally solid and entertaining one. Furthermore, it’s one of the better crime genre pieces I’ve seen in a while!
Wrath of Man is currently playing in theaters.