Friday, May 14, 2021

Those Who Wish Me Dead (2021)

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Streaming Services: HBO Max
Movie Name/Year: Those Who Wish Me Dead (2021)
Genre: Action, Drama, Thriller
Length: 100 minutes
Rating: R
Production/Distribution: BRON Studios, Creative Wealth Media Finance, Film Rites, NOS Audiovisuais, New Line Cinema, Universal Pictures International (UPI), Warner Bros. Pictures, Warner Bros. Singapore, HBO Max
Director: Taylor Sheridan
Writer:  Michael Koryta, Charles Leavitt, Taylor Sheridan
Actors: Angelina Jolie, Finn Little, Jon Bernthal, Aidan Gillen, Nicholas Hoult, Jake Weber, Medina Senghore, Tyler Perry, Boots Shoutherland, Tory Kittles, James Jordan, Lora Martinez-Cunningham, Howard Ferguson Jr., Ryan Jason Cook, Laura Niemi
Blurb from IMDb: A teenage murder witness finds himself pursued by twin assassins in the Montana wilderness with a survival expert tasked with protecting him -- and a forest fire threatening to consume them all.

Selina’s Point of View:
The trailer really made Those Who Wish Me Dead seem epic. On top of that, I haven’t really seen many Angelina Jolie (Maleficent, Wanted, Changeling) flicks in a while, and Jon Bernthal (The Peanut Butter Falcon, The Punisher, Baby Driver) is always a bad-ass. So, I was looking forward to it.
By about 30 minutes in, I thought there was a bit of a bait and switch thing happening.
After a couple of really powerful scenes to start with, it felt like nothing was happening. When something engaging did happen, it was based around an oft-repeated flashback. Which is a problem for me.
Whenever a movie replays a single flashback as many times as this one did, it feels heavy-handed. Like the creators just don’t trust the audience to get what they should have from it, so they need to force it a bit more down their throat. I don’t like that. It immediately turns me off.
However, the film does pick up.

After the slow burn of the first half (no pun intended), the rest of it is non-stop intensity.
The main characters face the elements, antagonists, and even each other. I no longer felt the passing of time as I watched.
I was completely invested in how the story would turn out for everyone involved. I felt my chest tighten with nerves, I was relieved where there was success, and grief-stricken with the failures. I felt just about everything the creators wanted me to feel as the credits rolled.
The acting was as great as I expected it to be – maybe better. Aside from Jolie and Bernthal, there was Nicholas Hoult (The Banker, X-Men: Apocalypse, The Favourite) and Aidan Gillen (Game of Thrones, Project Blue Book, Peaky Blinders) – both respected actors that absolutely killed their antagonist roles (still no pun intended). I REALLY loved the arc that Medina Senghore (The Three Way, Happy!, Keeping Company) got to play out, and she was absolutely flawless in it. Even the teen actor, Finn Little (Reckoning, Angel of Mine, Storm Boy), was on point.
I think this film will stick with me for a bit. I do think it could have been cut by about 15 minutes, but the end product is still decent.

Cat’s Point of View:
The world tends to be on fire a lot these days. It was only a matter of time until flames became the backdrop for mainstream media productions with more regularity. This particular movie is an adaptation of the 2014 book by author Michael Koryta. It’s Koryta’s first adapted work, but there are more on the way, it seems.
Unfortunately, I’m not familiar with this author, and so I am unable to offer insight as to whether or not the film sufficiently or successfully brought the story to life. What I can tell you is that I was intrigued.
One of the big draws to this story was the cast involved in bringing it to the screen.
Angelina Jolie got to tap into quite a bit from the spectrum of her range here – motherly protector, bad-ass, and tragic heroine – specifically.  I was absolutely here for it. Aidan Gillen was in his comfort zone as a slimy and ruthless character, and Jon Bernthal absolutely brought what I was hoping for to his character. My only disappointment in this department was that Tyler Perry had such a small blip of time on the screen in comparison. It was effective, sure, but let me down a little. When a name that big is associated with a film, you tend to expect an expansive role to showcase their talent.

The fire effects were very realistic. I felt hot just watching this as if the screen could radiate the intensity of the forest fire blazing through. The action was really solid, too. The story had a few holes but nothing was too big to prevent the enjoyment of the movie, at least.
Overall, the story was fairly basic where it comes to a ‘being chased by assassins’ sort of plot. The fire and a few twists along the way did elevate it a bit, but not by a huge margin.
I did appreciate the redemption aspect involved. Don’t get me wrong, though. I enjoyed it. I am just unsure if I’ll remember all the details after time passes a bit. It just didn’t hit me as hard or resonate as deeply with me as other fire-themed movies of the past have – such as Always (1989) or Backdraft (1991).
Even so, I’d still have no problem offering a recommendation for Those Who Wish Me Dead. It’s a solid bet in the entertainment department. HBO Max also makes it easily accessible to anyone with a subscription, if theaters aren’t available in your area yet.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 64%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – None
Metascore – 60/100
Metacritic User Score – 5.6/10
IMDB Score – 6.2/10
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating3.5/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating3/5

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