2015 - Rated R
Written by William Goldman
Directed by Simon West
Starring: Jason Statham, Dominik García-Lorido, Michael Angarano, Milo Ventimiglia, Stanley Tucci.
Rating: 3.5 stars
Fun, action-thriller à la Statham.Everytime I watch a Jason Statham movie I want to hit the gym and get ripped, but that's too much work so I'll just stick with lifting twelve ounces at a time and watching these guys beat people up on screen. Let's face it, guys like that have a determination and discipline many of us will never know. Bravo!
Wild Card is formulaic, enjoyable but not epic. When you think of it, formulas are created to acheive a specific result, so formulaic films are not inherently a bad thing. But when they happen to be formulaic and also suck, that's not good. While Wild Card isn't as good as some Statham's other films but it doen't suck.
Some so-so comedic banter between Nick and his partner (employer, cohort, cover?) Pinky is intended to establish the fundamentals of their relationship, but it seems a little stale. We get the idea though. And we are introduced to a kid from Boston, Cyrus Kinnick, who would like to hire Nick as a buddy guard and chaperone for a night on the town in Las Vegas.
One part that didn't nail it down for me is the recounting of a traumatic event by Nick's friend Holly, which is supposed to be the main jarring, revenge-prompting event of the whole film.
We see how horrific her experience must have been through brief flashbacks as she tells Nick about it, but while she's talking she acts more like she's just recalling a bad day at work. Nicks response isn't much different.
At this point in the story the audience should be thinking, "No way! Look how distraught Nick is! that is the worst thing I've ever heard in my life, those rotten bastards! Nick has to find them and kick their ass!" But I wasn't sold at this point.
It seemed like neither of them cared. Seemed like just a lame setup so he would have a reason to go hunt people down and beat them up. They weren't emotionally invested, so neither was I.
One fun aspect of the film is Millicent, a friend of Nick who happens to work in the house keeping department of a hotel where Holly was abducted. Millicent is a funny character and delivers some priceless lines later when they meet at a local diner to talk.
She issues Nick a dire warning to not get involved with the thugs at the hotel.
We find that Nick is still not interested in pursuing any sort of vengeance for Holly, but that Holly is the one who wants revenge. So, Nick pays the bad guys a visit.
Cue the testosterone. The first action scene is well done in a slo-mo montage with excellent C.G. Nick expertly dispatches some nicely choreographed body hits, deftly using the back of his head in one shot to subdue an opponent.
He also employs some razor sharp credit cards like Chinese throwing stars. One unfortunate error in G.C. continuity has the last card he flings turning into a coin when it slices the face of the head honcho before he goes down. At least that's what it looked like to me. I did a slo-mo step through of the sequence just to double-check. Not a deal breaker, just a thing.
Holly, who was patiently waiting outside while Nick leveled the bad guys, gets her revenge and some all-powerful problem-solving cash she takes from the head thug, Mr. DeMarco. Now she
can recover from her physical and psychological wounds in luxury. She doesn't kill him of course, because he'll need to come back for some counter-revenge, otherwise the movie would only have been 45 minutes long.
Holly skips town with her share of the cash and Nick hits the casino. Kinda makes me want to hit the casino and have a vodka on the rocks. But I don't drink vodka, and I like whatever money I have to stay in my pocket. He should have stayed.
But if he had the movie would have only been an hour long.
So, gambling, winning obscene amounts of money, drinking, gambling the winnings away, getting drunk, a little soul searching, revelations about real desires, and another fight with about seven or eight thugs sent by Mr. DeMarco. Cue counter-revenge.
Wish I could rebound that fast from a hangover.
Enter Baby, played by Stanley Tucci in an expertly applied wig. Baby is the apparent crime boss of Las Vegas, and DeMarco has called him to try and get Nick in trouble. Nick and Baby go way back so DeMarco's plan kind of backfires when a little detail is revealed. Baby let's Nick off the hook, but DeMarco is still sore.
Without giving away too much of the story, I'll wrap up by saying that the grand finale is a great fight scene behind the diner. A high tension collage of blood and brutality as Nick takes out DeMarco's crew, and DeMarco, with the simplest of utensils.
Baby did indicate that Nick could kill anyone with a glass ashtray from five feet, or fifteen. Apparently Nick can get the job done with just about anything.
Nick has a few final moments with Cyrus, who he refers to as "Duke" for some reason there, unless I was hearing things. Then they head their separate ways, on to more fulfilling lives after the redeeming experiences of the past 24 hours.
In all Wild Card is not what I would call a blockbuster, but it is an okay action-thriller testosterone loaded dick-flick worth an hour and a half, that your girlfriend might not want to watch with you. You'll have to go it alone.
Find Wild Card at Amazon.com
Search Simon West at Amazon.comIMDb.com