Those Who Wish Me Dead – Film Review
Director – Taylor Sheridan
Writers – Michael Koryta(screenplay by), Charles Leavitt(screenplay by), Taylor Sheridan (screenplay by)
Stars – Angelina Jolie, Nicholas Hoult, Finn Little, Aidan Gillen
Angelina Jolie plays Hannah, a firefighter with a troubled past. She made a mistake that continues to haunt her to this day, which explains her reckless behaviour and devil-may-care attitude to life. But wait, she’s about to be given a second chance in the form of Connor (Finn Little). He’s a young boy being chased by the forces of evil (including our own Aidan Gillen along with Nicholas Hoult) who will stop at nothing to kill him. Only Hannah can save the day…
So far, so wonderfully cliched. Normally cliches are a bad thing, but when you get so many of them and pack them so closely together they become something entirely new. You rise to a heightened sense of reality, like having twelve cups of coffee before 10 am. I was never entirely sure who the evildoers were (possibly my own fault), but they go around blowing things up and starting fires, so it’s fairly clear that they are evil.
An interesting aspect is that they give the bad guys screen time and lines independent of the main characters. We know how they intend to carry out their nefarious deeds, but never really why. It feels a little like a dastardly Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, as our despicable duo plot and scheme. I like to think Aidan carried out his actions to help his local orphanage back home in Ireland but his motivation is never clear! Angelina is suitably troubled throughout, drinking and making a variety of reckless decisions until her new path becomes clear.
This film comes from director (and co-writer) Taylor Sheridan, who previously directed films such as Sicario, Wind River and Hell or High Water. In truth, I expected a little more from him. While this film is good fun, you never really need to engage your brain, or even dare I say it, pay attention to the plot. Lots of things happen, and there are reasons for most of them, but you get the impression that even the writers were more concerned about creating the next action sequence than worrying about flaws with the script.
This is a fun and well-made film. The cast are generally likeable and the action sequences explosive and dramatic. It would look great in a cinema if you’re tempted back to a communal viewing experience or equally adequate at home. There is a small regret that the director has made the step into well-made thrillers instead or something more challenging, but sometimes it’s good to let your brain coast along in second gear on a Friday evening.