I tend to partake in movies that get right to the point. I don’t need all the drama that movies tend to insert into their scripts. I like to get right to the heart of story then, boom, I’m in for the ride. Those Who Wish Me Dead sees the return of Angelina Jolie is an action role, which is some that I best remember her for. Based on the novel of the same name by Michael Koryta, this movie tells the story of a young boy who’s on the run from assassins deep in the woods of Montana. He finds aid in a former smokejumper, but still a firefighter named Hannah (Angelina Jolie). The action is fast-paced, exciting and all held together by the supreme direction of Taylor Sheridan (who also contributes as a co-writer to this film).
The movie begins in Florida where a large house blows up due to a gas line leak. All of the occupants in the house are killed but we get the impression that it wasn’t an accident. Two brothers, known as the Blackwells, are assassins who have been hired to “take care of business” and walk away from the house prior to the explosion. They are on their way to another target. An accountant named Owen (Jake Weber) and his young son Connor (Finn Little). Turns out that Owen uncovered something he wasn’t supposed to and now he’s on the run. The family that was killed in the beginning of the film were the Assistant District Attorneys assigned to the case that Owen is a part of and anyone involved in going to be targeted.
Owen and Connor leave Florida and head for Montana where his brother-in-law lives with his pregnant wife. The brother-in-law is the Sheriff of Park County named Ethan (Jon Bernthal) who is patiently waiting for them to arrive. Ethan knows Hannah from a previous relationship but they remain friends. She’s been assigned to a lookout tower. If you’ve seen any of the previews to this film, you’ll know that the assassins catch up with Owen and his son and then it turns into a chase film with elements of the ‘90s style action. In fact, the first movie that came to mind while watching this was the 1998 film Firestorm. It shares the same exact breakneck speed.
What transpires is the assassins setting the forest on fire in order to distract the authorities while they themselves are out trying to complete their mission. I really didn’t care about the Blackwells myself (portrayed by Nicholas Hoult and Aidan Gillen) who really should analyze their job description. The assassins spend so much time trying to find and kill Connor, that is does tend to drag a bit, although considering that this is an action movie, I suppose we aren’t intended to ask those types of questions.
Hannah has some problems of her own. She’s suffering from PTSD following a horrific ordeal that happened to her and her team just a year prior. She’s trying to adjust following that event and running into Connor can provide that second chance at salvation. Jolie is such a treat to see on the screen and portrays a vulnerable woman who is just trying to readjust her life. I liked her performance aside from the idiocy of the assassins, but this is no way hurts the movie. It makes it fun and will certainly remind you of the fun, simple action movies from the ‘90s.
Score 4 out of 5
Those Who Wish Me Dead is a fast-paced action movie that gets right to point and never feels slow or draggy. Sure, I wish the assassins could’ve been better utilized, but that’s a minor complaint. Taylor Sheridan continues to prove his worth as a writer and director. The cinematography is gorgeous to gaze upon and those fire sequences are really intense. This isn’t a movie that features compelling acting, although the actors are just fine, it’s merely a simple action movie and should be judged on that basis. Those Who Wish Me Dead is a finely tuned entertaining thrill ride. I had a great time watching it.