Friday Film Review--"Those Who Wish Me Dead"
Angelina Jolie was a “wonder woman” in action movies long before comic-book blockbusters dominated the big screen.
Mark Harrington takes a look at Jolie’s newest effort, and he gives his take for this week’s Friday Film Review.
This week’s film is "Those Who Wish Me Dead", starring Angelina Jolie, Nicholas Hoult, Finn Little and Aidan Gillen. Now, notwithstanding the fact that Director Taylor Sheridan literally left Park City for greener pastures to film "Yellowstone" elsewhere, I remain a huge fan of his movies. So, I was excited when I saw the trailer of his latest film which teased part Harrison Ford’s "Witness" and part Josh Brolin’s "Only the Brave". Who better to combine a murder witness survival story with fire fighting in the forests of Montana? Well, let’s just say the door remains open for someone else to succeed. "Those Who Wish Me Dead" starts strong enough with a fire fighter named Hannah, played by Angelina Jolie, who is banished to a remote fire tower when she allegedly mismanaged a fire line causing several deaths. Meanwhile, back on the east coast, a hit squad moves in to assassinate a district attorney and an accountant who are about to blow the lid off undisclosed bad deeds. As the assassins close in on their targets, one flees west to Montana to take refuge with family. As the hitmen, Nicholas Hoult and Aidan Gillen display an unrepentant enthusiasm for eliminating any living thing in their path in a manner which re-defines cold-blooded, but somehow, their characters lose track of a victim’s teenage son from just a few feet away. The boy takes off in the woods where he of course finds banned firefighter Hannah. The killers start a forest fire to cut off the boy’s escape and keep the local authorities off their trail of blood. Hannah decides to help protect the boy but they are quickly confronted with the reality that they have no escape and they are forced to fight back to survive.
"Those Who Wish Me Dead" allows Angelina Jolie another vehicle to showcase her bravado and ability to command the screen in an action film, but unnecessary CGI, ridiculous stunt falls, and unrealistic lightning storms are all distractions in a script which is equally dumbed down. For a better look at a noteworthy performance capturing the intensity of a strong woman in the fire fighting family, treat yourself to another viewing of Jennifer Connelly’s turn as real-life Amanda Marsh in "Only the Brave". However here, surprisingly, Director Taylor Sheridan fails to capture any personal authenticity in any of the characters, except maybe the pregnant wife of the sheriff. It is this authenticity which usually fuels the tension and amplifies his action scenes. Without it, this film is as fun as a fake fireplace.
So, on my ski trail rating system, "Those Who Wish Me Dead" earns my intermediate BLUE ski trail rating. Occasionally surprising action sequences and villains you love to hate save an otherwise poor script, which is amplified by haphazard editing and an all too predictable plot.
"Those Who Wish Me Dead" is rated R for strong violence, language, and as Donald Sutherland’s Ronald from "Backdraft" would say- the consequences suffered by of those who do not respect the animal.
"Those Who Wish Me Dead" is streaming on HBO Max and playing in local theaters.
This is Mark Harrington for KPCW’s Friday Film Review