Guy Ritchie’s latest crime thriller, Wrath of Man, finds the director teaming with Jason Statham for the fourth time in a remake Nicolas Boukhrief’s Le Convoyeur (2004). It’s a bleak story of revenge where the mood doesn’t let up.
Set in Los Angeles, the movie opens with an armored truck robbery. A lot of activity is obscured from the audience’s view. Time passes. Patrick Hill (Statham) gets a job working for that same truck company. A robbery takes place on Patrick’s route. While his seasoned partner (Josh Hartnett) is jittery, Patrick is calm, especially while killing the entire team of robbers. The FBI investigates, but don’t get much information. However, it turns out they have been looking for Patrick, yet it’s decided by a superior (Andy Garcia) to let him loose since Patrick isn’t bound by the same rules the FBI is.
Three months later, Patrick’s truck gets hit again. When he gets out, the bad guys just up and leave. Patrick’s background and motivation are then revealed. Turns out he was on scene at the movie’s first robbery. He paid an unbearable price and wants the people responsible.
Different criminals are tortured for information, but Patrick’s crew has trouble finding the culprits. This sequence throws off the movie’s rhythm. The pacing is slow and not much is accomplished, making the violence here feel needlessly excessive.
Turns out, the armored truck robbers are a new crew. Their motivation, beyond wanting money, doesn’t make much sense and could be viewed as insulting by their real-life counterparts. For the movie’s climax, they decide on one last score to retire on: robbing the armored truck depot on Black Friday when it will be filled with millions.
Wrath of Man has good action sequences, which is expected in Ritchie’s work. He doesn’t shy away from violence as a lot of people are shown splurting blood while killed and injured. Both mostly resulting from gun shots.
The script co-written with Ivan Atkinson and Marn Davies is where the movie suffers. The tone is consistently grim throughout with no levity to lighten matters. There’s very little to the characters, who are simply figures to kill or be killed. They don’t have much to their personalities that make them memorable, and Statham gets the best lines. (Although the writers must not have been from LA because when Patrick orders two burritos from a food truck, he never specifies the type of meat.) There were also points in the plot that didn’t make any sense but were forced through to move the story along. Maybe frequent thefts are common, but the truck company never investigates whether any robberies are inside jobs. The opening robbery went awry because of a loose cannon so it’s surprising he is kept around for the big score which was even more important.
For those looking for a lean, mean crime drama and don’t mind a light story, Wrath of Man fits the bill. It is engaging but there isn’t enough to the story or production that compels a second viewing.