Guy Ritchie misfires in his latest action thriller with Jason Statham. Wrath of Man attempts to wrap the standard revenge theme around a mysterious conspirator. It's told in four chapters that take place during different time periods. The result is a leaden jumble of poorly defined characters directed in an awkward way. There's violence galore, but sizable gaps intersperse the graphic firefights. Wrath of Man struggled to hold my interest between the carnage.
Wrath of Man is set in the aftermath of an armored truck robbery. The crime goes awry and results in multiple innocent fatalities. Several months later, an enigmatic loner with a gruff personality, Patrick Hill (Jason Statham), applies for a job at Fortico, the security and transport company. He barely passes the qualifications, but is hired as a driver. His co-workers (Holt McCallany, Josh Hartnett, and Niamh Algar) aren't impressed. They call him "H". Each employee has a nifty nickname.
The opinion of "H" changes dramatically after another attempted hijacking. He single-handedly decimates the attackers with ruthless efficiency. His colleagues are stunned by his abilities. They begin to suspect there's more to "H" than meets the eye. He also pops up on the radar of an FBI agent (Andy Garcia) investigating the crime. "H" indeed has a secret agenda. He joined Fortico for a deadly reason.
Wrath of Man stages a hodgepodge of subplots with vague supporting characters. Some are introduced at later points in the film. Guy Ritchie wants to create suspense. Who is "H"? And what is he trying to uncover at Fortico? The puzzle might have worked if the narrative weren't so convoluted. Jason Statham nearly becomes a secondary character. He turns into an absent protagonist as other points of view are explored. Andy Garcia suffers the same fate. He's introduced, then pretty much vanishes until the finale. Keeping track of the back and forth becomes boring. That's a damning critique for any film, but downright surprising for Guy Ritchie and Jason Statham.
Wrath of Man is adapted from a 2004 French film called Le Convoyeur; translated as "Cash Truck". I'm curious how the source material compares to the remake. I'd bet the characters had more exposition and personality. The acting ensemble is one-note here. Jason Statham, known for his dry wit and sharp delivery, feels like an angry robot in this film. His rage is understandable, but not compelling. The bloody climax and unmasking of the villain generates little excitement. Also, why would anyone use Fortico to transport money when the company is constantly robbed? There's a common sense variable missing.
Jason Statham's fourth collaboration with Guy Ritchie is sadly not successful. I can't even recommend Wrath of Man for the action scenes. It is a disappointing endeavor on all fronts. Wrath of Man is a production of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) and Miramax. It will be released theatrically on May 7th by United Artists.