Title – Those Who Wish Me Dead (2021)
Director – Taylor Sheridan (Wind River)
Cast – Angelina Jolie, Finn Little, Jon Bernthal, Aidan Gillen, Nicholas Hoult, Tyler Perry
Plot – After witnessing the murder of his father, young boy Connor (Little) finds shelter with reclusive firefighter Hannah (Jolie) in the Montana wilderness as his fathers murderers and a raging fire present danger to the two mismatched souls making it out alive.
“Talk to me and I’m gonna help you. Alright?”
Review by Eddie on 18/05/2021
Considering his responsible for penning the scripts for Sicario, Hell or High Water, creating the hugely popular Yellowstone series and was both writer and director of the highly undervalued but well-regarded Wind River, Taylor Sheridan has a quickly built reputation in the minds of film fans and its a reputation that doesn’t get upheld with his latest thriller Those Who Wish Me Dead.
A film that in many ways feels like an old-school late 80’s/early 90’s action thriller, the type that littered the marketplace wherever you looked in that time and place, Dead sees Sheridan adapt Michael Koryta’s well-liked booked on which this film is based on and while it remains somewhat faithful to its source material, you wonder why Sheridan was so excited to bring this to the big screen as it has none of the depth, character development or spectacle that worked so well in his most popular big screen works.
There’s very little depth on show here, Dead is the type of thriller that fails to work any particular messaging or social relevance into its story, its just a straight up tale of Angelina Jolie’s traumatised but hard as nails Montana based firefighter Hannah helping Finn Little’s young boy Conner escape the clutches of a murderous group of hitman who need him dead after he witnessed the killing of his father, with the only unique element to this tale being that this all transpires while a deliberately lit wild-fire rampages through the pristine surrounds of their location.
With so little for us to hold onto regarding backstories or reasons for caring, Sheridan unfortunately doesn’t manage to get much of a spark happening between Hannah and Conner and while Jolie and Australian actor Little do decent enough jobs in their roles, the friendship between the mismatched duo isn’t strong enough to carry the film to another level with all the fun and excitement left to the work of Aidan Gillen (is he the best bad guy character actor around right now?) and Nicolas Hoult as the two cold blooded hitman on his tail and Jon Bernthal as kind-hearted local sheriff Ethan.
As has been the case with Sheridan’s previous work as a writer and director, Dead does harbor some fairly tense and well-executed set pieces that while paling in significance to the finales of Sicario, Hell or High Water or Wind River, some scenes do feel like sequences that are of a higher class than your average run of the mill mid-budgeted thriller but it just makes you feel more disappointed that these moments aren’t part of a greater whole and that Sheridan won’t continue too lower his colors for efforts like this that while not terrible, are so middle of the road that you wonder why he would even bother?
Final Say –
A fairly mundane effort from a writer/director that we’ve rightfully come to expect a lot more of, Those Who Wish Me Dead isn’t a film that becomes the talent of Taylor Sheridan or its cast that includes a welcome return to leading role duties for Angelina Jolie. Far from horrible, this is also a film that fails to ignite any real reason to seek it out.
2 1/2 watch towers out of 5