Sommerleigh Pollonais, Senior Writer
Plot: A teenage murder witness finds himself pursued by twin assassins in the Montana wilderness, a survival expert tasked with protecting him, and a forest fire threatening to consume them all.
Review: Let’s list why this movie should’ve been perfect.
Number one: Taylor Sheridan is an actor (most would recognise him from Sons of Anarchy) and screenplay writer of some of the best modern day westerns like Hell and High Water, Sicario, the grossly underrated Wind River and television show, Yellowstone, all of which I thoroughly enjoyed. And the man also directs.
Number two: Talented and recognisable actors like Nicholas Hoult (X-Men: Days of Future Past) Jon Bernthal (The Punisher) Aidan Gilen (Game of Thrones) and of course, Angelina Jolie, who needs no introduction.
Number three: A thriller with a fun concept—a firefighter battling to keep a young boy alive during a massive forest fire while being chased by assassins. All this should’ve made Those Who Wish Me Dead a slam dunk, yet somehow what I got was another mediocre thriller that, while entertaining, isn’t the kind of thriller I would find myself going back to time and time again.
Before I take you directly into the fire, let’s talk about the heat first, or in this case, the good stuff. The movie doesn’t waste its time. From the opening scene the story gets the ball rolling and it doesn’t take long for young Connor, played by Finn Little (Storm Boy, Tidelands), to find his way to Jolie’s Hannah, a firefighter who has been sidelined by a tragedy in her past. Both actors quickly develop a natural rapport (maybe a bit too quickly to be totally believable) and they work well together.
Another aspect that I enjoyed and I actually found a bit surprising was the level of brutality in this thriller. I should’ve expected it though, as writer/director Taylor Sheridan is not a man to pull his punches. But it still caught me off guard. That said, it worked well in notching up the tension and in making Hoult and Gilen’s assassins-for-hire more terrifying than your average mercenary types. They were cold, methodical killers who would take out anyone in their way. And their characterisation made you truly scared for anyone who came across their path of destruction. The movie is also pretty short which means it was never boring. Always a good thing when you’re talking about the thriller genre.
Now for the fire, which in this case isn’t slang for how good this movie is. No my friends, this is where we get burned. Because with all the talent involved here I would’ve expected something along the lines of Meryl Streep in The River Wild or Sylvester Stallone in Cliffhanger.
What I got was a movie that did nothing much to make any of the characters stand out. No memorable villains, no cool action set pieces that make you hold your breath while watching it. Hell, the fire didn’t even really play that big a part in the events here. The whole thing felt like background dressing on a stage instead of an actual threat to the people around it.
I adore Angelina Jolie, I really do, but as crazy cool as she was in this role nothing she did here felt like it went beyond the surface. I would even argue Jolie isn’t the star of this movie! I’ve never read the book this film is based on but I would bet my Issue #1 of Witchblade the firefighter character isn’t the hero of this story. No I think Deputy Sheriff Ethan and his pregnant wife Allison (Jon Bernthal and Medina Senghore respectively), are the real heroes here, with Allison being so much of a badass, you almost forget Jolie’s Hannah is supposed to be the hero!
So much talent and so many opportunities wasted. This could’ve been one of the best thrillers of all time; instead we got was another mediocre movie with a screenplay that has all the signs of being gutted and rewritten to death. This is the kind of film you’ll watch to pass the time and then never think about again. Disappointment, thy name is Those Who Wish Me Dead!
Sommer’s Score: 5.5 out of 10
For more of my thoughts on the film you can check out my video review below:
So what’s your favourite Angelina Jolie thriller? You can check out more thrilling reviews below:
Sommerleigh of the House Pollonais. First of Her Name. Sushi Lover, Queen of Horror Movies, Comic Books and Binge Watching Netflix. Mother of two beautiful black cats named Vader and Kylo. I think eating Popcorn at the movies should be mandatory, PS4 makes the best games ever, and I’ll be talking about movies until the zombie apocalypse comes.
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