Cinema Review: Those Who Wish Me Dead | Under The Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Thursday, June 17th, 2021  

Those Who Wish Me Dead

Studio: Warner Bros.
Directed by Taylor Sheridan

May 17, 2021 Web Exclusive
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Angelina Jolie’s Hannah isn’t merely stricken with survivor’s guilt—the (anti)hero of Those Who Wish Me Dead seems cursed with immortality. The star’s triumphant return to action adventure in this latest neo-western from Taylor Sheridan (Hell or High Water, Sicario) also allows her to shine dramatically with a harrowing portrayal of PTSD. In an early scene, Hannah masks her suicidal tendencies as thrill seeking, parachuting off a speeding truck driven by fellow forest firefighters in rural Montana.

She later tries to be a martyr when an orphan named Connor (Finn Little) seeks refuge from a pair of crooked cops. Played by Aidan Gillen of Game of Thrones and The Wire, and Nicholas Hoult from Mad Max: Fury Road, those villains race to cover up the systemic corruption that the boy’s father tried to expose, and leave a long trail of bodies. Try as those machine gun wielding, secret service lookalike agents may, they can’t kill an ever-resourceful Hannah. She proves even more resilient against the film’s fiercest antagonist of all— the Montana woods, especially their wildfires. After a prior blaze claimed young victims before the skydiving, axe toting Hannah’s helpless eyes, an even more ferocious fire, the murderous agents and especially Connor all hold potential for her redemption.

After years of flops and absence from the screen, Jolie’s eagerness for the role is clear. She deftly rekindles the smoldering intensity and arched eyebrow danger of her 90s heyday, swiftly refilling a void that no other star could. She’s met her match with director Sheridan, whose eye for gorgeous Americana vistas and modern high noon thrills is as sharp as ever. He arms Gillen and Hoult with not only laser scoped pistols but a haughty Big City ruthlessness that’ll make audiences relish their demise at the heroes’ poorer equipped hands.

Best of all: the villains’ faceoff with newcomer Medina Senghore. When their rampage brings them to the home of sheriff Ethan (The Punisher and The Walking Dead’s Jon Bernthal, ruggedly stoic as you’d hope), his pregnant wife Allison’s (Senghore) dread is palpable. Thankfully, she and Sheridan nimbly subvert Hollywood’s history of grisly exploitation against African Americans. Seconds later, you’ll long for a sequel centered around Senghore’s hunting rifle toting heroine.

While the dialogue is disappointingly boilerplate (more so in the first act), the character development a bit flimsy, and the ending rushed to the point of feeling tacked on — especially compared to Sheridan’s Sicario and Hell or High Water heights — this movie nevertheless boasts nail biting action and inventive wildlife survival thrills. All that, and the deep bench cast patch over Those Who Wish Me Dead’s flaws, which only somewhat leaving you wishing for more.

Author rating: 7/10

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Average reader rating: 5/10


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