MANILA, PHILIPPINES — In 1998, the world was introduced to director Guy Ritchie in the form of the heist film with a lot of dark British humor in Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels. One of the actors who also made their debuts in that feature was a former competitive diver in Jason Statham. That film launched both of their careers into the stratosphere, and they reunited two years later in the equally successful Snatch. It took 21 years for Ritchie to work with Statham once again but in Wrath of Man, the pair tell a more serious story with hardly any laughing involved.
Patrick Hill (Statham) is a new hire at Fortico Security after some armored cars were recently hit by a gang of masked and heavily armed men. Dubbed “H” by veteran guard Bullet (Colt McCallany), he is introduced to other members of the security agency although they don’t take kindly to what they perceive to be his aloof nature.
When Bullet is taken hostage by the same gang and demand the $2 million they’re protecting, H easily disposes of them while protecting Boy Sweat Dave (Josh Hartnett). Commended by the owner of Fortico, other members of the agency applaud H although he himself is wary of it.
It is then revealed that months earlier, H was out with his son Dougie (Eli Brown) visiting from London. Reluctantly taking a call that separates him from Dougie, one of his own men, Mike (Darrell D’Silva) asks for help to stake out a Fortico Security armored car. When another group dressed as construction workers hits the car, one of the thieves, Jan (Scott Eastwood) kills a couple of guards and Dougie for being a witness. He also shoots H, leaving him comatose.
Awaking, H is apparently really a man known as Hargreaves and runs a crime syndicate. Determined to find out who is beyond Dougie’s death, H systematically hunts down the crew of robbers, mostly through violent means. H has his credentials forged so that he can infiltrate Fortico Security because he believes it will be the fastest way to come face-to-face with the men behind his son’s murder led by Jackson (Jeffrey Donovan).
The film reaches its climax when Jackson’s crew plot one big heist that will ensure every member of the crew can retire rich. Their problem is that H is a massive roadblock that stands in their way. If they can somehow incapacitate H, then they’re walking home free.
This reunion between Ritchie and Statham hasn’t exactly been expected since both have achieved success apart from one another. Ritchie has already gone on to direct two Sherlock Holmes movies starring Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law as well as the live action Aladdin film for Disney. Meanwhile, Statham has exploded into an action megastar, starring in massive films like The Italian Job, The Transporter and its sequels, The Expendables and its sequels, and even a spinoff from the Fast and the Furious franchise.
Thus, when Ritchie and Statham came together once again, it was only fitting to expect big things. In Wrath of Man, Statham is no longer the novice that he was when their relationship began. His film persona of the brooding, quiet asskicker is something that film audiences have not only come to expect, they look forward to it. Statham will likely never be accused of being an actor with a lot of depth, but he knows what works for him, and that includes a lot of glaring, a lot of gunfire, and a lot of violence on display.
Set in contemporary times, Ritchie doesn’t do montages here as he has in several previous films. Instead, he opts for a few flashbacks to help fill in the blanks as far as H’s story and reason for wanting revenge go. Wrath of Man is at its best during the heist scenes, whether the jobs are a success or even if H gets in the way. The precision with which the former military members engage in their robberies, as well as the later-revealed betrayal by one of Fortico’s own, make for some great imagery.
McCallany is someone that fans of the Netflix series Mindhunter will be familiar with and he continues portraying the grizzled, veteran person of authority here as Bullet. Hartnett, who once looked like he was set for Hollywood superstardom, surprisingly takes several steps back here, opting for a mere supporting role instead of the lead. The same can be said for Eastwood, Clint’s progeny who clearly inherited the veteran actor’s looks and acting talent. He could have likely gone after more leading man roles so it’s refreshing to see him choose to be one of the bad guys here instead.
Again, people know what to expect when they watch a Jason Statham film and Wrath of Man delivers on those expectations in spades. The backstory given to H is unique, however, and is different enough to make the film stand out from his previous film roles.