Guy Ritchie's Wrath of Man is a straight-up action exploitation film. I think it is important to understand that to maximize the amount of fun you can have watching this revenge flick. Jason Statham is channeling some Charles Bronson-level badassery here, kicking bad-guy ass and killing anyone who had anything to do with the death of his son.
While Statham has been in some big films as of late, it is great to see him back with Ritchie, this time in a starring role. Ritchie understands how to use Statham's stone face demeanor in a way few other directors have. Paul Feig knew how to mine that tough-guy act for huge laughs in Spy but before that, Ritchie was the only one using him to great effect in Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch.
Wrath of Man is a remake of the French heist thriller Le Convoyeur. It has been transplanted to Los Angeles and this works well as bank heists in that city are not uncommon. At the center of this twisty plot that is told out of order, is a bank heist that goes wrong in a few ways. As the story begins, H (Statham) is getting a job at an armored car company. He passes the test with the lowest possible passing score but it is clear from the start that he is overqualified. So why is he there, especially when we learn that he is a crime boss of sorts with a crew of robbers? That is the fun of the plot that packs in a few surprises and a lot of cliches.
While the film isn't fresh and the plot is easy to trace once you get your head around it, Wrath of Man is a blast to watch. This is in part thanks to Ritchie's stylish direction and well-staged action scenes. The other key element is Statham, who is just a lot of fun in this mode. The film has some funny one-liners as people react to H and his violent rampage. The violence is brutal but not indulgent. The pace is brisk and pulses thanks to a solid soundtrack. Crime fans will be very pleased with this film and fans of Statham, like me, will rejoice in this pitch-perfect role he is given.
Ritchie seems to be on a bit of a streak after some big-budget duds. 2019's The Gentlemen was a big step towards the crime cappers that launched his career. Wrath of Man feels like a more confident film in every respect. He has become quite a good action director but it is his confidence in tone and storytelling that shines here. The film is pure grindhouse revenge with a touch of class.