' ' Cinema Romantico: Wrath of Man

Wednesday, October 05, 2022

Wrath of Man

There’s a lot going on in Guy Ritchie’s “Wrath of Man” (2021), too much going on, one might say, which is a hallmark of Ritchie’s films, I suppose, right down to that “Swept Away” remake where even if that was just Madonna and Adriano Giannini stuck on an island all I can remember all these years later is the over-edited would-be comic game of charades. Then again, in those early Ritchie offerings that made him a hot commodity, there was a distinct energy, even if sometimes it could feel All Revved Up With No Place to Go, to quote Meat Loaf. Twenty-three years later after his debut “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels,” Ritchie has matured, in a manner of speaking. That is to say “Wrath of Man,” in which a terse mystery man deemed “H” (Jason Statham) takes a job driving an armored truck, is more composed and solemn than those early punch drunk efforts, with a muted color palette striving to evince elegance and a mixed-up timeline that even in working to generate tension oddly comes across almost as muted as the photography, seeking a novelistic heft, epitomized in chapter headings like A Dark Spirit. It might have worked if there was any emotional follow through to the various emergent subplots, but a band of vets turned robbers feels like Cake covering Gloria Gaynor – i.e., “Wrath of Man” covering “Widows” – and the ostensible backstory surprise of “H” is so unsurprising it becomes rote. And yet! Statham remains compelling as something less like a genuine character than a delay-action action movie bomb, holding everything in and sizing everybody up ‘til it’s time to go. The title might suggest the Bible but “H” is more like a welterweight shaking off the robe, hearing the bell, and unleashing a holy furor. If you’re into that sort of thing.

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