Wrath of Man (2021)

A new Guy Ritchie movie? And we’ve got Jason Statham? Color me intrigued! (With a light shading of skepticism).

In their newest collaboration (after many years apart) Statham plays the mysterious “H” a newly hired security guard for an armored truck company. What they don’t know (same as the viewer) is that he isn’t quite who he seems. If you’ve watched a Statham movie, like, ever- you’ll know that he means business. His business here? Revenge.

But, we’ll get to that.

One Crime, Two Crimes, and a whole lot more

As the film opens we’re shown a robbery, one that is inevitably the catalyst for the story, delivered to us in pieces over the course of the film. We’re merely spectators here as the camera immerses us inside the armored truck, feeling the tension, but still being limited to what we can ascertain. The opening credits are akin to a Bond film visually, (which makes me wonder what that particular team up would look like) and it immediately sets the style for the rest of the film. There is also the use of chapter names, which- while at first- seemed unnecessary, somehow won me over. Specifically the last. In many ways, despite a thin plot, the movie was overly heavy-handed with its intentions (and especially the… dialogue- which tickled my gag reflex on more than one occasion).

Yet from the very beginning the tension is present, festering, as we slowly understand the motives of our lead, and well, his full wrath.

source: Paramount Pictures

Jason Statham is no stranger to a character like this, but it’s one of my favorite performances of his in some time. His cool, icy demeanor doesn’t falter, strutting into danger with the collectedness of Terminator and a firearm efficacy that’s chilling. As a grieving, anger fueled man on a rampage, Statham does drive the lean plot with evident rage.

What are his intentions?

“A Dark Spirit”

“H” is a man with power in the criminal world and when a heist goes wrong, his teenage son is killed. This sets him upon a mission to find his killer. Eventually he finds his way to Scott Eastwood (channeling some serious Waingro from Heat, a far superior film- watch it if you haven’t) who is part of another crew. He’s a hothead, clearly making impulsive, selfish decisions; the kind of guy you somehow hope is responsible. It makes rooting for the antihero at the center a lot easier. Also, for screenwriters Guy Ritchie, Ivan Atkinson, and Marn Davies, a stock antagonist requires less imagination.

The Mystery of “H” doesn’t take long to decipher, but the film unearths his story at the right pace. It takes its time to build. The score by Christopher Benstead permeates throughout, teetering between frustratingly insistent and understandably pestering. There’s something rather sinister underlining the film, with some sequences reaching a disturbing height, but there’s also a sense of grief in H’s intentions, that’s evident, and clings to Statham throughout.

source: Paramount Pictures

We get answers in different ways, from H’s dedication to finding those responsible, to meeting those who are. It, of course, culminates in a big bloody final heist.

The supporting roles work, but are pretty by-the-numbers, with appearances by Holt McCallany, Josh Harnett, Jeffrey Donovan and Laz Alonso (to name some). Suffice to say, primarily a male-dominated picture.

When it comes to Ritchie movies, they tend to be hit or miss. I can tell this will divide audiences (and it has) especially fans, with his decisions here. So, what was is that made me lean (streettchhh) towards favor?

so much wrath

In this instance I tried to go into this without expectation, after all- I had enjoyed his last outing, and being reunited with Statham– it seemed like it could be promising. In some ways it was like my first theatrical experience post-pandemic. Though it wasn’t, it sure felt like it, and maybe that tinged this experience with an extra level of enthusiasm. However, I admittedly did enjoy Wrath of Man. Is it perfect? Hardly. Problematic at times? Eh, yes (gulp). But, is it entertaining? Absolutely. It’s a full-throttle thrill ride that manages to mar dark intensity with an action-filled narrative. It is one of the more serious notches in Richie’s recent belt, and I was surprised by that.

Wrath of Man is really Statham‘s, what I’ll call, “Symphony of revenge” featuring many bodies falling, and bullets a blazing. With a killer (in all ways) ending, it’s about as joyful as one can expect from a movie like this. However, there’s a level of escapism through cinema that can be found here, with some compelling sequences and great action, but temper your expectations.

It was a moody piece, one that could have been much better with the right cohesion, writing, and less concern for being “cool” and more for striving for originality. I think there could have been an even better film if it had shed some of its concern for excess. Still, if you can disconnect from that and from the overly masculine intent, you’ll find Wrath of Man to be a entertaining, thrilling, ride.

Have you seen Wrath of Man? What did you think? Let me know!

Currently in theaters.

Godzilla vs. Kong (2021)

By now, if you haven’t heard of Godzilla vs. Kong, I’m a little concerned. Really. It’s our first big blockbuster of the year, landing on both HBO Max and in theaters, delivering high energy thrills, epic fight scenes, and lots of incredibly thought-provoking narratives.

Okay, so, not so much on the last one.

There are a lot of terrific special effects, and there is no denying that a spectacle of this kind is going to be fun and Godzilla vs. Kong is. Don’t get me wrong, while there were some definite lulls, it kept my attention (from my home) and it definitely reinvogorated the desire to be in a theater seeing something of this scope. *Chokes up.*

Is it what I expected?

Perhaps, and maybe that’s part of the problem. Gareth Edward‘s Godzilla (2014) had some interesting ideas, some terrific cinematography, and the story had real stakes. Godzilla: King of the Monsters, eehmmm, not really. This is definitely an improvement on the latter, but it lacks the direction of Edward’s film. Adam Wingard has done a couple movies that I truly adore (and will probably review at some point on this site), but this gargantuan spectacle isn’t one of them.

There are some very cool sequences where these two fight (wait- what??) even though the weirdo in me really wants to see a spin off where they’re besties somewhere, splashing around, feeling #makelovenotwar vibes. But, leaning back into “reality”, there are some great developments here, as well as some things that will give you some answers you probably wanted, like when this first came out, like, “How is Kong possibly going to compete with Godzilla?”

source: Warner Media and HBO Max

These “monsters- not really monsters” aren’t really the problem. The biggest issue with this film, and it’s what makes it hard to give this a full on, energetic, slow-motion thumbs up, are the human characters. Look at this cast, it’s pretty stacked: Ilene Andrews (Rebecca Hall), Dr. Nathan Lind (Alexander Skarsgård) Madison Russell (Millie Bobby Brown) and her father, Kyler Chandler. As well as Julian Dennison, Bryan Tyree Henry, and Demián Bichir to name a few.

Why isn’t it elevated to the blockbuster I wanted?

These titular creatures are legendary for a reason, and then when you see this cast lineup your hopes shift upward. Unfortunately, the storylines are just not compelling. More than anything they are there just to keep the monster’s story moving, but don’t have their own purpose. They are characters with thin trajectory’s and even worse dialogue.

With the exception of one.

As we have seen in countless iterations of King Kong, he often has a soft-spot for a kind-hearted human. This time around it is a young girl, raised on the island and looked after by Kong when she loses her parents, Jia (Kaylee Hottle), who quite literally, steals the show.

More Jia!

source: Warner Media and HBO Max

There are a lot of talented individuals in this movie that have nothing to really do. They feel like spectators, with little to contribute to the overall story. There’s a subplot with three characters (all terrific actors) that may illicit a couple laughs, but is mostly unnecessary. Tonally, the film makes a couple of quick pivots, attempting to be playful, but mostly suffers from inconsistency. It’s hard to balance the importance of what’s happening, the potential horror as you will, while keeping this a family movie night pick. I think this is a case of visual style over substance, which many popcorn flicks are, so it isn’t unexpected.

It has some sweet moments, primarily between Jia and Kong. Some pretty badass moments, (I personally always love it when Godzilla first makes his entrance). There are some other interesting creatures/worlds that come into play, but the films supposed “villain” ends up being overwhelmingly lackluster. Or, perhaps, not the execution, but the motivation behind the creation.

A couple last, mostly nonsensical, thoughts: I half expected Immigrant Song to start playing during one fight scene (yes, I’m harking back to one of the MCU’s best, Thor: Ragnarok). While in a similar MCU vein, I was also wondering if maybe there’ll be some accords written up, holding these two accountable, because places get hella damaged, people killed, and no one seems concerned.

I didn’t dislike the film, it was an exciting jaunt, mostly, but I also, didn’t love it. I believe it is possible to have a film of this caliber and visual lushness, that can still have characters conducive to quality and depth. This just isn’t it.

One could argue, but, do we really need that? And I would respond, shouldn’t we?

What are your thoughts? Can you look past the script and human stories and just enjoy it? Or are you still looking for a new movie about these classic monsters that has a bit more? Let me know! Also, #teamkong or #teamgodzilla? Personally, I’m team Rebecca Hall, and now, Kaylee Hottle!

Weekly Watch Recs 3/22-3/28 Oscar Nominations Edition

There is so much content out there! Any ideas?

Well, naturally we all have different tastes, but I figure I’ll throw out a few suggestions each week, just in case one strikes your fancy. 

I may not get to do this every week, because- well- there may not be things I aim to passionately recommend. Last week’s big movie news came in the form of the Snyder Cut of Justice League. While it was an obvious improvement on it’s previous, messy version, I didn’t love it. However, many of you out there may enjoy it (it is still entertaining at time) in all of it’s four hour glory. If so, head over to HBO Max.

In other Comic book news, we received our next Marvel series last week on Disney+ with Falcon and the Winter Soldier. This six part limited series has currently dropped two episodes and it’s must watch for any MCU fans out there. There is a lot of exploration into characters that we haven’t gotten yet.

Invincible (2021)- source: Amazon

 

Also- the animated adaptation of Invincible arrived on Amazon Prime this week. It’s already given us 3 episodes to gobble up, and this one- I would definitely recommend! Quite the stacked cast. 

For this week I figured I talk about the Best Picture Oscar nominees you can watch before the big day. There’s eight this year and all of them are now available to watch. Yay!

Minari (2020)- source: A24

 

2020 (The lost year) may have sucked for many reasons, but for film, you’ll find it was quite stellar. I really feel like it was the year of the indie, and there’s a lot of new and seasoned voices providing some incredible and beautiful art. It’s a wonderful thing for these all to be available to everyone. With the Oscars about a month away, there’s plenty of time to catch up. These are all available on a wide variety of streaming services too, making it easy to experience them. There are also several styles and genres on display (still no horror, sadly, but the lack of representation of that genre in the Oscar’s is a whole other story…) with two female helmed films (making me very happy). There are some heavy emotional hitters in this list, making them quite unforgettable in their own ways:

Mank (David Fincher) “1930s Hollywood is reevaluated through the eyes of scathing wit and alcoholic screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz as he races to finish Citizen Kane.” It is streaming on Netflix!

Promising Young Woman (Emerald Fennell) “Nothing in Cassie’s life is what it appears to be — she’s wickedly smart, tantalizingly cunning, and she’s living a secret double life by night. Now, an unexpected encounter is about to give Cassie a chance to right the wrongs from the past.” It is available to rent on Amazon Prime (regular rental fee)!

The Father (Florian Zeller)”A man refuses all assistance from his daughter as he ages. As he tries to make sense of his changing circumstances, he begins to doubt his loved ones, his own mind and even the fabric of his reality.” It is available to rent on Amazon Prime (19.99 price)!

The Father (2020)- source: Sony Pictures

Nomadland (Chloé Zhao) “>A woman in her sixties who, after losing everything in the Great Recession, embarks on a journey through the American West, living as a van-dwelling modern-day nomad.” It is streaming on Hulu!

The Trial of the Chicago 7 (Aaron Sorkin) “The film is based on the infamous 1969 trial of seven defendants charged by the federal government with conspiracy and more, arising from the countercultural protests in Chicago at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. The trial transfixed the nation and sparked a conversation about mayhem intended to undermine the U.S. government.” It is streaming on Netflix!

Judas and the Black Messiah (Shaka King) “Offered a plea deal by the FBI, William O’Neal infiltrates the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party to gather intelligence on Chairman Fred Hampton.” It is streaming on HBO Max!

Minari (Lee Isaac Chung) “A Korean American family moves to an Arkansas farm in search of its own American dream. Amidst the challenges of this new life in the strange and rugged Ozarks, they discover the undeniable resilience of family and what really makes a home.” It is available to rent on Amazon Prime (19.99 price)!

Sound of Metal (2019)- source: Amazon

Sound of Metal (Darius Marder) “A heavy-metal drummer’s life is thrown into freefall when he begins to lose his hearing.” It is streaming on Amazon Prime!

Do I have favorites? Of course! However, I know that each of movies deserves a place here, which means that some of you might love ones that I don’t. For that reason alone, I’m keeping my personal picks out of it (feel free to ask me though and I’ll tell you) and encouraging you to decide for yourselves! There are also many other films in other categories worth seeking out, but for now, watch away!

Let me know what you think!

Weekly Watch Recs

There is so much content out there! Any ideas?

Well, naturally we all have different tastes, but I figure I’ll throw out a few suggestions each week, just in case one strikes your fancy. 🙂

Nomadland (Chloé Zhao) Uniquely beautiful, incredibly moving; Nomadland is a film that needs to be seen or rather, experienced, to understand its power. Frances McDormand is just as wonderful as she always is, giving one of her best in a powerful, yet quiet, performance. This is easily one of the best films of 2020 and, hey, it was released on Hulu last month! I’m not going to stop hyping this one.

Wandavision Yeah, I am an MCU fan, and this limited series just wrapped. Best time to binge! It’s really one of the most interesting things to come out of Marvel recently, and a great place to start Phase 4. There’s a weirdness that’s lovely, and Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany are both incredible, enriching these characters and their relationship, that hadn’t previously gotten their due on screen. It also packs some surprising emotional punches, especially with Olsen as a woman grieving. On Disney+ (of course).

The Stylist (Jill Gevargizian) I reviewed this one over on Film Inquiry and I absolutely adored it. It’s a horror/thriller about a young hair stylist who is also a blossoming serial killer, and who craves connection. It features terrific performances and a lead (Najarra Townsend) who you can really sympathize with. It’s on Shudder!

Happy watching! And if you do- tell me your thoughts!