Jason Statham has made a name for himself; well, two names actually. On the one hand, he’s a freshly bruised face to the action movie genre and knows how to put his physical skills to the test in explosion fashion (The Transporter trilogy, Safe). On the other hand, he’s also dabbled in the wackier, stranger side of action films that make little sense; except an excuse for him to do some crazy stuff on screen and somehow make it stupid and equally entertaining with ease (The Crank films, Hobbs and Shaw). “Wrath of Man” definitely skews more towards the former despite the flashy presentation and editing work (thanks to “Sherlock Holmes” director, Guy Ritchie). In some ways, it’s a typical Jason Statham movie and in some ways, it’s not typical at all…but in a good way.
Our story follows the mysterious one-man army known simply as H (Jason Statham). He’s recently started working as an armored car driver at a cash truck company in Los Angeles. His co-workers and would-be robbers learn painfully and quickly how dangerous H can be and that he is far more than a mere truck driver. H nearly died in a shootout years earlier that cost him the life of his son. Now he’s using the armored car job to lure criminals out in hopes of finding the people responsible for killing his son and making them pay with their lives.
Jason Statham has this habit of always playing himself (or an exaggerated badass version of himself) in all his movies; it’s the same role every time essentially. However, it’s a role he does well and there’s hardly been a single film he’s starred in that didn’t deliver on the action side of things. “Wrath of Man” is a different breed of film for Statham and his unique set of physical talents as it takes him on a much darker ride than most people are used to. Much like “Safe,” Statham is put into a harsher, more violent, and grim story/situation that kind of sucker punches you out of nowhere. To say too much more about the story would delve too deeply into spoiler territories and there is much within the plot that can be easily spoiled if one is not careful.
I think a lot of people write Statham off as a one-note action star that can’t branch out into many other fields/genres and I think that’s an unfair and inaccurate depiction. “Wrath of Man” proves he is capable of handling and taking on much more than people give him credit for. Guy Ritchie is known for this stylistic sense of flare and distinct action sequences; his work always carries that distinctive edge that makes a Guy Ritchie movie feel like a Guy Ritchie movie. The story here jumps around erratically; using a similar mixed-up narrative that Quentin Tarantino is known for. It works more than it fails in this film’s case but it does make you stop and wonder where this scene fits in the timeline if you’re seeing it for the first time.
The only downside with Ritchie’s narrative style here is that it ends up making the film feel longer than it actually is and that is not a good thing to have. Usually, the longer a film feels the worse the experience is even though that is not the case here. Perhaps if some cues or signs indicating when and where this scene was happening could have helped clear up a few of those misunderstandings, but these are minor gripes at best. There’s also a great yet underrated supporting cast to talk about with the likes of Josh Hartnett, Scott Eastwood, and Eddie Marsan filling in some deeply interesting supporting roles. Again, can’t say too much without giving away too much. Rest assured this is definitely not an action movie I would call predictable.
If anything comes from “Wrath of Man” beyond box office bucks, I hope this gives directors and producers a new sense of appreciation and foresight when hiring Jason Statham for roles meatier than just a generic bad-ass kicking guy with a new name/film/location, etc. This film clearly shows he can go dark and badass without missing a beat and is capable of much more with the right amount of artistic direction. “Wrath of Man” doesn’t always know what its timeline is or its tone but it knows how to make excellent use of Statham’s skills that other films have not and I hope this trend continues because this is a side of him I don’t think anyone can get sick of.