Starring: Angelina Jolie, Finn Little, Nicholas Hoult
Director: Taylor Sheridan
Running Time: 100 mins
Those Who Wish Me Dead is an American film about a young boy who escapes two hitmen after they kill his father, but who finds himself in the Montana wilderness, only to be rescued by a forest firefighter.
A film that does at least try to do something a little different, Those Who Wish Me Dead unfortunately ends up overthinking what is at its core a very basic story. Despite decent performances and moments of good action, the film makes for a messy and unnecessarily confusing watch throughout.
Admittedly, it’s admirable to see a film with a fairly generic story doing something a little different, but it’s even more frustrating when that works to the story’s own disadvantage.
From the start, Those Who Wish Me Dead attempts to build mystery and suspense by never revealing exactly what the background is to the main characters’ storylines, from the father and son who flee a pair of ruthless assassins, to the smokejumper who finds herself working alone in an isolated forest watchtower.
There’s a half-hearted attempt at throwing in some back story trauma for Angelina Jolie’s character, which the movie never really does much with apart from some very loose parallels that come up in the final act.
As for the whole reason for the events that take place… what is it? I spent the entirety of the first act confused and chasing the story, as the film’s attempts to build mystery only create confusion. It’s not Pulp Fiction and the briefcase where there’s an ambiguous MacGuffin involved, this movie actually doesn’t tell you what the cause for its own story is.
It’s only in the third act where things do improve, as Those Who Wish Me Dead takes a turn from a crime-thriller vibe to a full-on action movie style, with some rather decent action sequences in the midst of a blazing forest fire. The special effects aren’t exceptional, and certainly not on the level of Only The Brave, but there are still a few very pretty scenes with the burning backdrop.
As for the performances, most are fine, albeit nothing spectacular. Angelina Jolie is likable in the lead role, but does little to bring much depth of emotion to her one-dimensional character. Nicholas Hoult is miscast as a ruthless bad guy, Jon Bernthal is generally off his game and Aidan Gillen is often comically villainous.
As a result, there’s little about Those Who Wish Me Dead which really delivers. There are some good action sequences and I suppose it can entertain in a turn-your-brain-off capacity, but the fact of the matter is that the movie works to its own demise with a pointlessly convoluted and ambiguous opening act that makes it almost entirely unintelligible until it shifts gears in a lighter but at least more action-packed third act. So, that’s why I’m giving the film a 6.3 overall.