And here we have another one of your basic crime heist movies, but with this being directed by Guy Ritchie, did we really expect anything else? Well, I guess I personally expected it to be weirder and louder and… uglier… but nope, it’s just mostly as generic as it gets with this genre. It does seem to have a promising opening with how stylized it gets with its long takes and use of sound, but Wrath of Man is going to be extremely difficult to remember a year later, or even differentiate from other crime movies that came out in the last twenty years.
There isn’t a whole lot to praise; essentially, there’s this one guy who goes by “H,” he’s just a stone-faced anti-hero who makes forgettable catchphrases before killing someone without hesitation, and doesn’t even seem to care what happens to his own family. He’s a character you’ve seen so many times before in other better films, so this time around, you’ll forget him in a heartbeat. But that’s also because there’s so many, and maybe I should say, too many, characters in this movie. They’re almost all men, and most of them are White, and they all have really the same personalities—horrible people who kill. They’re hard to keep track of as the events are told in nonchronological order, in the style of a bunch of smaller substories with their own title much like what Quentin Tarantino does with a lot of his movies. Except you can’t even keep track of who’s alive or who’s dead because the timeline is so all over the place without much rhyme or reason.
This is really treated more like it’s an ensemble movie with multiple other subplots going on around the main plot with H, but it’s impossible to care because there’s nothing about any of these men that’s worth caring about. Their only true purpose is to push the action forward and make room for some more awesome shootout scenes. It becomes detrimental to the end product, because it just makes things all the weirder and more confusing as to where or when you are in the timeline. Within a single substory, there may be two plots going on simultaneously, and the scenes within those plots shift back and forth to indicate that they’re going on at the same time. In one of those, you see H’s partner, Bullet, taking a big risk for a big reward, but you’re challenged into questioning whether if what he’s doing is really that big of a risk for him after all. This potential for a complex character is tarnished by an absence of character development, because of the moments when two separate scenes shift back and forth but happened on two different days. It made things frustratingly confusing as to when something is happening and to whom.
There are some good things to say, however. The practical and digital effects make for some memorable components, such as a sequence where bad guys immobilize a vehicle by throwing black paint on the windows and mirrors so it doesn’t escape, or the opening scene where a vehicle is broken into… as you watch it happen from the inside. The stunt choreography also looks and feels so real with the proper blood and gunfire effects to not come off as accidentally cheesy; you really do believe it when someone has their brains blown out of their skulls, almost as if you’re there when the chaos is happening. So it can certainly be looked at as a “cool” movie with its fancily decorated sets that become perfect stages for shootouts.
If I had to complement anything else about it, that would be the musical score by Christopher Benstead, in what is only his second screen credit for a feature film. Right away it sounds so heavy, loud, intense, and electrifying, like a Holter monitor, then the score never seems to stop playing as it broods over the events unfolding within this security heist—it really is a character in and of itself, almost as if it’s pulsing to all these men as they’re after the same goal that still somehow conflicts with one another. So the soundtrack does in fact work to the effect of getting tighter and tighter into the escalation of the conflict. It’s cooler still how the music moves to the beat of a treadmill and to the pumping of a weight, like it knows that the workout is setting these guys up closer to the reward they’re racing toward, and is setting their hearts only on those ambitious selfish goals of theirs.
This forgettable protagonist though makes the good components virtually worthless. H is in a position where he just got hired as a driver after working in supermarkets, but so what? It can’t make this movie any more exciting, despite its more nontraditional way of structuring the screenplay. The intent of the structure was to try and hold back some information so that more could be revealed when the same scene is revisited later from another character’s point of view, but it doesn’t quite work.
I also believe I should talk about this film’s poor representation of women. There are hardly any female characters here, only one gets a fair number of speaking roles, and she’s the one female working in the all-male industry of security guards. So of course, she’s got a pixie cut and an impressive set of muscles, like she was required to be more manly in order to be acceptable for this environment. And that’s really it, besides a couple of other wives and supporters, women are mostly absent in this movie. Not to say that’s a bad thing, you can have great representation of women in movies that are majorly male-centered, but you also can’t use your feature to say that women are only useful if they look and act like men. For crying out loud, let women be women!
Hopefully, this all convinces you that Wrath of Man is no different than a movie of the same genre made back in 2001. Now, you don’t need to make this the eighth darkly lit, desaturated, testosterone-heavy crime heist movie you’ve seen in only a month. You don’t need to keep on this road of tolerating mediocrity- expand your horizon and watch movies you wouldn’t normally watch. I guarantee you’ll find something you love that’s also well made.
If there is a specific movie you’d like to see graded, or if you are interested in guest blogging for my site, please email me at Trevor@TrevorsViewOnHollywood.com for your recommendations.
Have a great weekend, and happy watching!