Those Who Wish Me Dead
Those Who Wish Me Dead (2021) movie review
Based on the book by Michael Koryta, which must have been published the early 2000s at the latest… <looks up information> Oh 2014? Well okay then. Those Who Wish Me Dead is a drama/thriller starring Angelina Jolie as a firefighter struggling with a past trauma when she comes across a boy on the run from two killers who murdered his father. The film was Adapted by Koryta, as well as Oscar nominee Taylor Sheridan, who also directed the film. Those Who Wish Me Dead opens this weekend in theaters and on HBO Max! Whether or not it’s worth seeing is another matter…
I had high hopes for this firefighter action thriller by the guy who brought us Sicario (2015), Hell of High Water (2016), Wind River (2017), and Yellowstone (2018-2021). Plus that cast? Angelina Jolie, Jon Bernthal, Aidan Gillen, Nicholas Hoult- pretty solid lineup there. Now I’m not saying this is the mot disappointing film of 2021 so far, but what I am saying is- Well actually yeah, that’s exactly what I’m saying. Now this film falls right in line with The Little Things (2021) as far as its entertainment value. So if you are fine watching a perfectly decent and very cliché film without reading too much into it, knock yourself out! I don’t like settling for lesser films from great filmmakers who are capable of much more.
So what’s so bad about it? It’s a generic story with slow pacing that wastes its performances and has no real resolution for its character arcs or either half of its story. Good? Can we go home now? Ugh no, I guess I’ve got to actually write it out… So this is a story we’ve seen before. Alot actually. So what does this film do differently to change it up? Very little. The film also banks on Angelina Jolie’s character to carry the film, despite maybe 60% of the runtime being focused on her. There is far too much build up and not enough actual resolution. And the firefighter story? Doesn’t have that much weight on the film.
Jolie does a decent enough job, but she’s not given anything to do that anyone else couldn’t handle with ease. So it doesn’t need to be Academy Award winner Angelina Jolie. Jon Bernthal does a really good job actually! But while I would love to give this film credit for a good performance, there are more bad performances than good ones. Aiden Gillen and Nicholas Hoult are just not well cast. Maybe its because their characters are ripped straight from the 90s, or because the writing for them is often confusing, but I wish they just weren’t in it. Or maybe they could chase Connor (the kid) until they lose him, then Jolie finds him, then there’s a forest fire and it was about Jolie’s character arc that DIDN’T need to and in a fight scene.
Brian Tyler’s score was surprisingly compelling! I don’t typically like Tyler’s music. He’s often too big and epic for the music to feel focused, let alone emotional. (Which is why he’s been doing the last few Fast and Furious movies.) Something about Those Who Wish Me Dead brought out a slow burn pacing in a genuinely well composed score. That I’ll give a point back for! But as far as quality goes, that was the nice thing I had to say. Now I noticed in Wind River that Taylor Sheridan isn’t quite as prolific as the directors he typically works with when he writes and doesn’t direct. But this- ugh there’s just not much that stands out here. I kept comparing it to Only the Brave (2017) in my head, and this just lacks the ability to capture the weight and tension of the situation.
So Those Who Wish Me Dead fails as a thriller, it fails as a firefighter movie, and it’s probably not going to make too much at the box office. Should you go see it? I wouldn’t. We watched it on HBO Max and I still felt ripped off by such a dull, generic story that doesn’t give any of it cast anything to do. Even the dialogue was disappointing… You know what, maybe this was written in 2014 when the book was released, or Sheridan worked on rewrites like Without Remorse (2021)… I don’t know what happened here, but it’s not good. 4/10.
So Those Who Wish Me Dead? Did you watch it? What did you think? And what is your favorite version of hardened worked with a past trauma helps a child being hunted by mean people? I like the one with Liam Neeson that JUST CAME OUT! Anyway if you could leave a like and/or a comment, we’d appreciate it! And if you want us to write about some random nonsense just to see what we have to say, let us know below! Thanks for reading!
-review by Ryan Prince