“WRATH OF MAN” UNLEASHES BRUTAL FURY; “REBEL” DRAMA ON TV
A Film and TV Review by Tim Riley
“WRATH OF MAN” RATED R Action fans should be cognizant of the history of groundbreaking filmmaker Guy Ritchie and action superstar Jason Statham, going back to their fast-paced, anarchic Nineties hits “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” and “Snatch.”Both of them return to their roots with “Wrath of Man,” an explosive revenge thriller based on the 2004 French film “Le Convoyeur,” which few on this side of the Atlantic have ever seen or even heard about. While there is no ambiguity about the type of character Jason Statham inhabits with ruthless abandon, his character of Patrick Hill harbors a secret agenda with a set of deadly skills not readily apparent when he takes a job with a Los Angeles armored vehicle company.
Coming onboard as a security guard at Fortico Security and riding shotgun, Hill learns the ropes from partner Bullet (Colt McCallany). Becoming known as simply “H,” the newbie proves his worth during an attempted robbery of the truck.Appearing to be a quiet, keep-to-yourself person just trying to do a job, foiling the robbery reveals H’s formidable skills as an expert marksman who’s also adept at hand-to-hand combat. While hailed as a hero at the armored car depot, H raises suspicion with office manager Terry (Eddie Marsan). After all, H scored only a passing grade in the fitness and shooting skill test required to be hired.
Obviously, H has a backstory which only deepens the mystery of his connections to other enigmatic players. Why is he keen on taking a dangerous job for entry-level pay? Revenge is the motivating factor for H, and the reason for that is best left for the viewer to discover.In his single-minded quest for justice, H has interesting links to the underworld and to FBI agent King (Andy Garcia) that stir curiosity about whether these connections are red herrings or just reasons for flashbacks that muddle the plot.In the end, the storyline takes a back seat to the heavy action scenes that come into sharp focus when a group of Afghanistan war ex-soldiers led by former sergeant Jackson (Jeffrey Donovan) overcome civilian ennui by robbing armored trucks.
Jackson’s band of brothers, including the hotheaded psycho Jan (Scott Eastwood), scheme for a criminal career-ending payday of a brazen robbery of Fortico’s depot on Black Friday, the day of their largest collection of cash.The climactic day of the big heist is not without intrigue (is it an inside job?) as well as a showdown with more firepower unleashed than all the action scenes combined ahead of this culmination.“Wrath of Man” is the kind of diverting action film one would expect when reuniting Guy Ritchie and his stellar protégé Jason Statham for a formula that has worked before. Yes, it’s a notable crime thriller, but it may not remain as memorable as the earlier collaborations.Nevertheless, Ritchie and Statham are already at work on their next project, a spy thriller that will include some of the actors from “Wrath of Man.” Sign me up to be one of the first in the audience.
“REBEL” ON ABC NETWORK
A Film and TV Review by Tim Riley
Inspired by the life of Erin Brockovich, ABC’s new series “Rebel” stars Katey Sagal as Annie Flynn Ray Bello, otherwise called “Rebel” if only because the last names of multiple marriages may prove confusing. As a blue-collar legal advocate without a law degree, Rebel is relentless and undeterred in a fight for justice, and as such was described at the winter press tour as one, like Erin, who “inspires everyone she meets to become their own heroes.”That Rebel is unafraid to challenge adversaries in a manner that might prove embarrassing for others is made clear in the first episode when she crashes a corporate party to confront the CEO (Adam Arkin) of a medical company producing defective heart valves.
Even an unflattering picture of Rebel’s stunt is not enough to cause discomfort for the activist. Current husband Grady Bello (John Corbett) at one point complains that Rebel “cares more about getting on the news than getting home to cook me dinner.”Audible groans may come from female viewers, especially considering that Rebel seems to be the breadwinner and Grady’s job is somewhat nebulous. Apparently, he spends time restoring vintage cars.Meanwhile, aside from helping an abused woman or a male professor harassed by a university for a possible bogus assault charge, Rebel is motivated by Helen (Mary McDonnell) to pursue a class action suit against Stonemore Medical, makers of the heart valve.With dogged determination, Rebel pushes hotshot lawyer Julian Cruz (Andy Garcia), still grieving over the loss of his wife, to take the case of penurious plaintiffs to fight the deep-pockets corporation in a protracted court battle.
Add to the mix that one of Rebel ex-husbands, Benji Ray (James Lesure), lures away their daughter Cassidy (Lex Scott Davis) to represent Stonemore in the lawsuit.On the strength of Sagal’s tenacious advocate, “Rebel” merits a look to see if it delivers on a cause worth the effort.