Wrath of Man proves great Jason Statham thrillers can be ice cold

Guy Ritchie created a fresh look for his frequent collaborator.

Guy Ritchie’s usual protagonist is a bold, noisy individual who refuses to shut up. This is especially true for Guy Ritchie heroes like Jason Statham. So far, the team has collaborated on four films, with Statham’s roles displaying the type of Ritchie-movie swaggering arrogance that can come off as charming or harsh, depending on the part, the film, and the audience. Ritchie famously met Statham while he was selling counterfeit perfume and jewelry on the streets of London – the director required a con artist for Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, and Statham had on-the-job experience.

Statham’s lead character in the superb Los Angeles-set criminal thriller Wrath of Man, which you can (and should) see now on Paramount Plus (it was on Hulu but departed the platform less than 24 hours after it was uploaded), could be defined as “Guy Ritchie protagonist: silent version.” He’s chilly, calculating, and uncommunicative. The film is less frantic, exaggerated, and talkative than past Ritchie/Statham collaborations like Snatch, which works to Wrath of Man’s advantage and makes it worth a viewing now that it’s available on streaming.

Wrath of Man proves great Jason Statham thrillers can be ice cold

Wrath of Man is a four-part, non-linear drama based on the 2004 French thriller Cash Truck about one cataclysmic occurrence and its rippling impact on the protagonist and everyone around him. Five months after a deadly armored-car robbery, the victimized corporation recruits “H” (Statham) as its newest security guard. He barely passes his weapons test, and he enters the office with a low profile and little expectations from his new coworkers. However, when another robbery attempt happens and H responds with a scary display of violence, his new coworkers are both surprised and impressed.

Ritchie has directed some incredible action sequences in his career (I am a vocal supporter of King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, and I will not apologize), but he reaches new heights with Wrath of Man’s action beats, creating a mystique around Statham’s mostly silent character with brutal efficiency in the violent scenes. When his enemies flee (including Post Malone in a brief cameo), he hunts after them like a slasher villain before putting them away cruelly. (YouTube commenter “ThatGuyOverThere” characterized it appropriately as “what occurs when a champion player enters a gold lobby.”)

Wrath of Man proves great Jason Statham thrillers can be ice cold

Wrath of Man, like the equally fantastic recent LA-based heist thriller Den of Thieves and LA crime classics like Heat, makes excellent use of the peculiar geography of wide-open Los Angeles, particularly in the opening few vehicle-centric action sequences that take place on the streets. (One of the early action beats is set against towering palm palms and a beautiful blue sky.) The film is loaded with overhead vistas of the metropolis, displaying crisscrossing roads and the sparkling city lights of Los Angeles at night.Slick editing by frequent Ritchie collaborator James Herbert and a heart-pounding score by Christopher Benstead (one of the Oscar-winning Gravity sound team) elevate the already stellar action sequences, culminating in a climactic Black Friday heist attempt that lives up to the 90-plus minutes of suspense that precede it.

Wrath of Man also features a usually strong supporting ensemble (including Andy Garcia, Eddie Marsan, and Jeffrey Donovan, among many others) and trademark Ritchie character names (such Holt McCallany as “Bullet” and Josh Hartnett as the loathsome “Boy Sweat”). If you enjoy action thrillers or heist films, you should watch this at the very least as a craft practice. Who thought a calm, controlled Ritchie/Statham criminal thriller could be so effective?

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