- Directed by Taylor Sheridan
- May 5, 2021 (South Korea) / May 14, 2021 (United States)
A smokejumper stumbles across a young boy who has just witnessed the murder of his father and now fights to keep the child alive.
Those Who Wish Me Dead is not too bad of a thriller. It is based on a book of the same name by author Michael Koryta and tells of an emotionally wounded women saving the life of a young boy. The story builds from the start though it does build slowly until the fire start. The pacing of the film is steady and filled with good characters. I cannot really complain about the action here either. It is not over the top with anybody becoming a ridiculously capable out of nowhere.
The plot is set off early in the film when forensic accountant Owen Casserly (Jake Weber) learns of the death of his boss and family. He quickly realizes it was a murder and believes he is next and goes on the run with his son Connor (Finn Little). Owen has been digging through the financial records of some VERY powerful people and has found some VERY wrong things.
Now I need to pause for a moment to bring something up. Whatever illicit activity got the ball rolling and how it connects to what is implied to be a vast conspiracy is not really explained. We know it connects to a lot of important people and from the looks of it they are able to pull strings to get military individuals involved but who they are and what it is beyond something involving money is never put up on screen. Whoever they are they have the will and power to send two men to blow up a district attorney’s house to kill everyone inside and to go to great lengths to kill a forensic accountant and his son. That just bugs me. Not enough to make me dislike the movie but enough to go “And…?!”
Angelina Jolie is a talented actress. She has real skill and Those Who Wish Me Dead showcases her abilities. Here she plays smokejumper Hannah Faber who had to watch as three children died and she is suffering the personal and emotional consequences of that event. As is often the case in stories like this she is attempting to earn a sort of redemption by saving Connor. Because of her talent she prevents her character from being the typical type you would find in this type of movie.
It is clear that Hannah and those she works with are close and they forgive her for what happened prior to the film even if she has not. At one point while recertification (?) with her team she hopes in the back of a pickup truck presumably to shoot out the back after releasing the parachute. This bit of foolishness brings her back in touch with her ex-boyfriend.
Weirdly Hannah is on extremely good terms with her ex-boyfriend-sheriff’s deputy Ethan Sawyer (Jon Bernthal) who is now married and expecting a child who also happens to be the brother-in-law of Owen. I give them props for not bringing that up right away. It would have felt a little cliché but is still a serious coincidence. Weirder still is Ethan’s wife seems okay with he and Hannah being chummy. I have never been in a relationship nor seen a relationship where the ex was welcomed so warmly by the new S.O.
The women are definitely in charge here. Ethan’s wife Allison (Medina Senghore), while pregnant, is one of the better bad asses in the film. She takes on the bad guys that come for her in spectacular fashion. Jolie is not too bad either. While not a woman, John Bernthal’s Ethan freaks out on the two bad guys played by Nicholas Hoult and Aidan Gillen it is just a really amazing moment. You do not often see in a movie the hostage pointing out the obvious and saying screw this and trying to take on their captors.
Between the fire and the approaching thunder and lightning storm the film feels fairly intense. The story feels high stakes even if you are never quite let in on what all the stakes are. This becomes a life-or-death struggle for all involved and not all will survive.
The end of the film irritates me a bit. After taking out the two individuals in pursuit of Hannah and Connor, the film is just ends. Connor is safe and the proposed news conference which would have been the smart way to go from the get-go happens. I expected a Plan B from the head villains but no such luck.
In the end Those Who Wish Me Dead is a good film. Despite gaps in information that other movies would fill in you are kept interested from beginning to end. You care about the fates of the characters and the villains are seriously villainous. Their methods and the lengths they are willing to go to are equal to the devastating backdrop they occur against.
Those Who Wish Me Dead is an enjoyable action film with some thriller elements. It looks good and the acting is solid but it does have some shortcomings. I will give this an if you want that you will enjoy.