'Wrath of Man' movie review: This is Jason Statham's show

'Wrath of Man' movie review: This is Jason Statham's show

“This is a creaky old dinosaur. This girl should have been retired 10 years ago.”

That’s a doomed security guard talking about a weather-beaten armoured car in the latest bloody action film from Guy Ritchie. But it’s also an easy opening for Ritchie and actor Jason Statham to flex their ageing chops, as if to say, “Hey, there’s some life in us yet!” And by the end of this nearly two-hour crime drama, a remake of the 2004 French thriller “Le Convoyeur,” the director and star, both in their 50s, seem reinvigorated, albeit at a slower — and more effective — pace than one might expect.

Statham, whose quiet rage is evident as soon as he appears on screen, plays Patrick Hill, a newly hired guard at Fortico, a company whose fleet of trucks move millions of dollars in cash around Los Angeles. Co-workers welcome the recruit with a barrage of locker room taunts as they try to establish dominance — until H, as they call him, surprises them all by single-handedly foiling an attempted heist.

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Laz Alonso. Image Credit: AP
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Jason Statham and Josh Hartnett. Image Credit: AP
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Holt McCallany as Bullet, Jason Statham as H, Josh Hartnett as Boy Sweat Dave, and Rocci Williams as Hollow Bob. Image Credit: AP

H puts fellow guards like the veteran Bullet (Holt McCallany) and the less-experienced Dave (Josh Hartnett) to shame, and his mild-mannered supervisor Terry (Eddie Marsan) suspects that the new employee has something up his sleeve. He seems to be out for revenge — but who’s the target?

Statham and Ritchie first teamed up in the 1998 action-comedy “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels,” which turned them into hot properties. But while that youthful film plied its post-Tarantino wares with shaky hand-held camera shots and rapid-fire dialogue, the now middle-aged men, working together for the first time since the 2005 thriller ‘Revolver’, have slowed down. Statham’s H is a man of few words, and, in the vein of such ageing action stars as Liam Neeson and Keanu Reeves, he’s seemingly invincible, in part because of a hard-earned physical wisdom that doesn’t allow a wasted move.

“Wrath of Man” matches its star’s physical efficiency with a visual clarity. Cinematographer Alan Stewart wields a steady camera that patiently stalks its prey like a panther, building tension until it finally pounces.

With chapter headings like ‘A Dark Spirit’ and ‘Scorched Earth’ all the way to that ominous title, ‘Wrath of Man’ is a crime drama with pretensions — and, courtesy of Christopher Benstead’s booming score, loud ones.

H’s blood lust makes him both hero and villain, which makes up in part for the fairly interchangeable bad guys. But this is Statham’s show, and his stoic brutality makes this a captivating slow burn.

Don’t miss it!

‘Wrath of Man’ is showing in UAE cinemas from May 13.