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A Messenger of Death: Wrath of Man (2021) - Reviewed

Posted By themoviesleuth 870 days ago on Entertainment - images courtesy Universal PicturesBy now we've all established one thing for certain. Guy Ritchie does his best when he operates in the non-conformist confines of the criminal underbelly that's defined so many of his best works. When he skirts around this specific sub-genre, he's found himself failing to meet the needs of his rabid fandom. As he once again rebounds from big budget fare, he finds himself toiling with a morally ambiguous gang of characters that feels real, timely, and full of hard boiled grit. His latest work, Wrath of Man brings us back around to Ritchie and Statham pairing for another heist film that sees them both returning to form with a cold and calculated film that's boiling over with attitude and the physical characteristics that initially made the actor an A-grade star. Abandoning the snark and quips of so many of his roles, Mr. Statham takes up the task of becoming a menacing force as he fully succeeds at adding a new dynamic to his resume. And it feels refreshing. At long last, he spreads his creative wings as a true force to be reckoned with. Brimming with shades of Michael Mann's classic Heat, 2018's Den of Thieves, and a never ending series of obvious influences, Ritchie and Statham seem to have found their calling card. Wrath of Man isn't as smart or as humorous as their earlier works, but all in all this feels like home. Backed by Josh Hartnett, an amazing Scott Eastwood who finally comes into his own, and Hoot McCallany, this qualifies as a testosterone laden robbery flick that takes masculinity to the hilt. Within the first ten minutes, we're introduced to a bevy of hard men and a women that take their lives super seriously. There is no comic relief as Ritchie abandons his normal quips and dialogue for something more robust in plot but still murky in character arc.  Wrath of Man dives head first into dark and brooding territory as Statham proves he can handle much heavier material than he's typically given to expand on. The deaths here are brutal, the wounds are more terrifying, and the score pulsates perfectly with the tones of the film. Vengeance has a calling card in the shape of a reinvigorated lead star that really does try something new here. Existing in a modern world that's perfected by its obvious nods, Ritchie loosely remakes the 2004 French crime thriller Le Convoyeur (Cash Truck) with precision and his personal directorial marks that include a Tarantino-esque narrative structure.  While it's great to see Statham do something different, it's really interesting to see Scott Eastwood finally come into his own. Any time he's on screen, he demolishes anyone he's sharing scenes with. After years of support roles and lead parts in smaller motion pictures, he has arrived on set ready to take up his personal bit of space as a leading man. There will always be comparisons to his father, but here he rises to being a relevant key player, not just the son of a Hollywood legend. If you're going into this expecting the standard Ritchie tropes, you need to stop right there. Abandon any preconceived notions because this is not that. This is the director in an alternate form attempting to align himself in another dimension of film making. Yes, it feels familiar in so many ways. But with Wrath of Man, all those involved flip the script on what we've come to expect. While some may shy away from being handed an unexpected bill of goods, many more will relish in knowing that the team behind this movie knew it was time to pay tribute to crime films of the past while marinating in newly renovated shadows of vengeance. Going in to this cold, expectations were set very low. Coming out, the level of intrigue, death, and pure calculation of story all have me impressed with Mr. Ritchie again. -CG

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