There was once a time when you knew what you were going to get with a Jason Statham film. Without even seeing the trailer it was more than possible to guess the content and motivations of whoever the character is. Recently that hasn’t been the case. The Stath is stretching himself a bit more. Between his triumphant comedic role in Spy and the more cerebral Hummingbird (AKA Redemption) he is showing another side of his talents. The latest Statham film to follow in the same style is Wild Card.
Nick Wild is a self employed security consultant in Las Vegas. After his friend Holly (Domink Garcia-Lorido) is abused and beaten by a thug and his bodyguards, Nick takes it upon himself to locate the responsible parties and enable Holly to gain some revenge. It turns out that the thug is the son of a Mafia boss and Nick is thrown into a world of pain when he is hunted by the mob who wants his head on a plate. What Nick wants is to get enough money to get out of Vegas and start a new life.
Based on the novel Heat by top author and screenwriter, William Goldman, the film is a remake of a Nineteen Seventies Burt Reynolds film. It is somewhat of a different role for Statham. He does as much talking as fighting here. The role really suits Statham’s style. The character of Nick appears to b laid back without a care in the world but as the film progresses you get an insight into the depth of the character. He is a troubled soul. He is addicted to gambling and his dream is to get half a million dollars so he can live in Corsica. The audience knows this is a pipe dream and so does Nick.
The film is paced well. The first third of the film provide the basis for the rest of the story. It sets up the character of Nick, subtly giving the character some background without long sections of exposition. It is further light on action. There is practically no fighting of any sort. This then emphasises the impact of the fight scenes when they do actually occur. Statham handles these scenes with his usual professional ease, but there is a strong sense that he could be seriously tested by one of his opponents.
The supporting players in the film are all of a very high standard. There are blink and you’ll miss them appearances from Jason Alexander, Anne Heche and Sofia Vergara. The main antagonist is played by Milo Ventimiglia. He is all brooding looks and over the top malevolence. He is, in effect, a pantomime bad guy. You can almost hear the boos as he enters the scenes.
The stand out support comes from Stanley Tucci in the role of the Las Vegas kingpin, Baby. I could watch Tucci in virtually anything and his presence always elevates the proceedings. Here he is a slightly camp character that oozes class and power from the first glimpse you catch of him. Shot from the back in shadow, he is the epitome of control as the smoke from his cigarette floats above his head.
Overall, a very watchable film that is a good mix of action and drama. Recommended.