‘It’s a crackling old dinosaur. This girl should have retired ten years ago. ‘ It’s a doomed security guard talking about a weather-stricken armored car in Guy Ritchie’s latest bloody action movie. But it’s also an easy opening for Ritchie and actor Jason Statham to bulge their aging chops, as if to say, ‘Hey, there’s still some life in us!’ And at the end of this nearly two-hour-long crime drama, the remake of the 2004 French thriller “Le Convoyeur” looks like, both in their fifties, director and star, albeit at a slower – and more effective pace than one might expect. Statham, whose silent rage becomes apparent as soon as he appears on screen, plays Patrick Hill, a newly appointed guard at Fortico, a company whose fleet of trucks moves millions of dollars in cash around Los Angeles. Employees greet the yard with a barrage of locker rooms as they try to bring about domination – until H, as they call him, surprises everyone by attempting to destroy an attempted heist. H shames fellow guards like veteran Bullet (Holt McCallany) and the less experienced Dave (Josh Hartnett), and his gentle supervisor Terry (Eddie Marsan) suspects the new employee has something up his sleeve. It looks like he wants revenge – but who is the target?
Statham and Ritchie first teamed up in the 1998 action comedy “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels”, which turned it into hot features. But while the youthful film lined up its true post-Tarantino goods with shaky hand-to-hand camera capture and quick dialogue, the now middle-aged men, who had been collaborating for the first time since the 2005 thriller ‘Revolver’, slowed down. Statham’s H is a man with few words, and in the manner of such aging action stars as Liam Neeson and Keanu Reeves, he is seemingly invincible, in part because of a hard-earned physical wisdom that does not allow a wasted movement . “Wrath of Man” corresponds to the star’s physical efficiency with a visual brightness. Film photographer Alan Stewart uses a steady camera that patiently pursues its prey like a panther and builds up tension until it finally bounces. With chapter headlines like ‘A Dark Spirit’ and ‘Scorched Earth’ up to that ominous title, ‘Wrath of Man’ is a pretentious crime drama – and thanks to Christopher Benstead’s thriving score, loud. H’s bloodlust makes him both a hero and a villain, which in part makes up for the fairly interchangeable guys. But this is Statham’s show, and his stoic brutality makes it a captivatingly slow burn.