Production Company: Lionsgate
Starring: Jason Statham, Stanley Tucci, Sofia Vergara, Milo Ventimiglia, Michael Angarano, and Anne Heche
Director: Simon West
Genre: Crime Drama
Running Time: 92 Minutes
MPAA Rating: R
When was the last time you saw Jason Statham in a good film? Let me save you the trouble of looking at IMDb; it’s been awhile. I’m not saying Statham needs to be in an Oscar worthy movie, but if I’m going to watch an action film mixed with a crime drama, I’m looking for a decent story with some pretty rad fight scenes. Wild Card has neither. It’s not for a lack of trying but when all is said and done, the movie ends up being flat.
Wild Card is a remake of the 1986 Burt Reynolds movie Heat, which is based on the William Goldman novel of the same name. It revolves around Nick Wild (Statham), an ex-military, gambling addicted, kung-fu fighter who’s a security specialist. He’s the man who gets things done but when a woman close to him wants revenge against the mob, he has to decide what’s important and what’s dangerous.
I didn’t expect much going into this film. I did think it would be a decent action movie—somewhere along the lines of The Mechanic—but boy, was I disappointed, even with my low expectations. The biggest issue with Wild Card is the movie is all over the place on multiple levels.
Let’s start with the characters. The movie has a lot of potential with its interesting characters and good actors to back them up, but director Simon West doesn’t utilize them with the story. The best example is Baby (Stanley Tucci) [which, btw, is a weak name for a character who’s not in Dirty Dancing]. From the moment Baby appears onscreen, we know he’s a cool cat. Baby is a head honcho in the mob world. He has a friendly vibe that makes him likeable but deep down, everyone is terrified of him. He’s willing to kill his own brother without a second thought. Tucci’s five-minute cameo has to be the best part of the film, but I wanted to see a lot more of him. There are so many avenues where Baby could have been better utilized, but the director doesn’t utilize the character’s potential.
It’s no different with Sofia Vergara, Milo Ventimiglia, and Jason Alexander, who are all well known actors. They could have been given larger parts in the film, but we barely see them. With Ventimiglia being the main antagonist, he is in the film only a little more than the rest of the bigger name supporting cast members, but not by much.
We probably don’t see much of these characters because the writers shift gears too much. Wild Card starts off with a good hook where Wild is paid to make a client look like a tough guy in front of his girlfriend, who is way out of his league. We then move to a kid who needs a bodyguard to go high stakes gambling, and then the movie segues into this whole mob thing. On top of that, Wild then goes on a gambling spree and fights with his addiction. And out of all of this cluster-muck, there are barely any action scenes. Statham gets into his usual kung-fu fights where he takes down a bunch of henchmen without breaking a sweat, but that’s about it. If this were a Guy Ritchie movie, I would have no problem with less fight scenes but the story doesn’t come close to the grittiness and wittiness of a Ritchie film.
I would’ve probably forgiven the film a little had the climax been good but it’s very anti-climatic. Usually, when a film reaches its conclusion, the main character faces an obstacle they have no way of getting over, or an adversary who’s impossible to beat. The fight scene at the end is too easy for Wild; he could’ve done it with his eyes closed. If you watch any Jean-Claude Van Damne movie, the story usually isn’t the strongest, but you can be Van Damn sure Van Damne is going to be fighting for his life against an opponent the size of The Hulk. Instead of this large obstacle, Wild beats up the same guys he does throughout the whole film. I never felt, at any time in the final scenes, Wild wasn’t going to survive his ordeal. He just ends up proving how much of a badass he is, which isn’t as much fun to watch as you might think. A lot of people might not like Van Damne films, but at least his movies are able to get that essential part of the story telling right.
There isn’t much to take away from Wild Card. It really feels like five different movies meshed into one with no clear reason of why anyone would enjoy the film. Because Wild Card is under the action flick/crime drama genre, people can forgive a few hiccups here and there. I mean, a lot of action film fans flocked to see The Expendables franchise, which is, in this writer’s opinion, ridiculous movies in their own right. Wild Card just has too many hiccups to be forgiven. Either way, if you happen to catch Wild Card on TV sometime, just click to the next channel.
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All photos © 2015 Lionsgate Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.
© 2015, Nick Polizzi. All rights reserved.
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