After a run of duds including King Arthur: Legend of the Sword and the live-action Aladdin remake, beloved Britflick filmmaker Guy Ritchie returned to form with 2019’s all-star crime thriller The Gentlemen. The instantly quotable comedy remains up there with Snatch and Lock Stock, so excitement was high for Ritchie’s next – which also promised his reunion with star Jason Statham.
The resulting film, Wrath of Man, is something of a mixed bag. Taken as a mindless action film, there’s a lot to like – the chaotic action-packed sequences certainly pack a punch. Stunningly choreographed and epic in their explosiveness, they are certainly the highlight of the film. Sadly, everything else falls apart around them. Guy Ritchie’s usual penchant for intricate plotting and memorable dialogue is nowhere to be found here, with a lacklustre and largely humourless non-linear narrative boasting none of the traits that made his earlier flicks the cult favourites they are. Statham appears to mostly be sleepwalking through the project; his usual “fuck off” swagger feeling half-hearted and tired. A surprisingly weak supporting cast fronted by Josh Hartnett hardly helps lift the energy.
Wrath of Man is certainly Ritchie’s darkest affair, and there are elements of this darkness that work. Fan theories suggest the film’s deeper subtext may include the Devil himself is a crucial part of the tale. But for the most part, the film is just bleak and dull, to the point that even the explosive car chases and gunfights can’t save it from its own mediocrity. It often gets lost up its own arse, and that’s a crying shame following The Gentlemen’s hilarious tongue-in-cheek approach to storytelling. On the whole, Wrath of Man feels more like a Guy Ritchie imitation – and not a very good one – than a genuine project from the guv’nor of Brit crime himself.
WRATH OF MAN is available now on Digital, DVD, and Blu-ray