Starring: Jason Statham, Michael Angarano, Hope Davis
Director: Simon West
Running Time: 92 mins
Wild Card is an American film about a Las Vegas bodyguard who finds himself in a tumultuous evening battling a serious gambling problem, all the while facing increasing pressure from a maniacal mob boss whom he wronged earlier that day.
Normally, when you see Jason Statham on the poster for an action movie, you can tell exactly what’s coming. But that’s not quite the case with Wild Card. Although not exceptionally fresh and new for the main man, featuring a lot of the same character traits as normal, it’s an interesting watch in that it puts a lot more focus onto a more small-scale and personal drama than simply going around and beating people up. Its story doesn’t really go anywhere in the end, but it’s actually a surprisingly engrossing watch.
All in all, the main reason that I liked this film was because of its middle act. Its opening act is a cool, slick indie action opening, following Statham as he wrongs the mob, while its finale is an okay collection of fight scenes, but the middle portion of the film is the real gem, a massive surprise in the middle of a film that I expected to be nothing more than punches galore.
After getting on the wrong side of a crazed mob boss, Statham’s character finds himself being drawn back to the blackjack table, as he falls victim to his chronic gambling problem. However, what unfolds afterwards is absolutely thrilling, as we go on a tumultuous journey of life-changing ups and downs over the course of just a few hours.
In that short burst of excitement, the story manages to bring more depth and drama to the main character than anything you could have expected, all the while proving a powerful and striking portrayal of just how damaging a gambling addiction can be. And what’s more, just when you think things are getting a little too serious and dull for a Jason Statham movie, there’s another brilliantly entertaining explosion of action in the middle of a casino, bringing a truly thrilling and massively surprising middle act to an end.
As I said, the opening and final acts that bookend the middle portion aren’t exactly exceptional, and although the film is still entertaining to watch right the way through, there’s nothing that stands up to the striking levels of excitement and drama of the middle act, which means that my overall impression of the film was lowered somewhat come the end.
Jason Statham does a good job here, bringing his typical bruiser character to life once again for some entertaining fight scenes, while still managing to bring that dramatic depth home in the film’s middle act, in one of the most impressive dramatic sequences I think I’ve ever seen from him.
Finally, I have to say that director Simon West also does a good job at directing the film. Again, while the opening and final acts aren’t anything to write home about, he gives the film a unique indie action vibe that makes it stand out a little more within the crowd of Statham action movies. But above all, he deserves credit for going all out with that properly impressive middle act, something that I really can’t say I ever saw coming, and that’s why I’m giving Wild Card a 7.2 overall.