The Stream: A run-of-the-mill chase movie, and false advertising about the fire!
The Big Screen: Good chemistry between Angelina Jolie and the little kid.
The Final Bill: It was alright for what it was but it wasn’t all that.– Trip Fontaine
Director: Taylor Sheridan
Writers: Michael Koryta, Charles Leavitt, and Taylor Sheridan
Stars: Angelina Jolie, Nicholas Hoult, Finn Little
Genre: Action, Drama, Thriller
Rating: R (for strong violence and language throughout)
Runtime: 1 hour 34 minutes
Platform: HBO Max and In Theaters
What was the last movie that anyone saw Angelina Jolie in? Maleficent from 2014? No one cared about the sequel to that, right? Well, she’s back this weekend in the action, thriller, Those Who Wish Me Dead. This movie is following the Warner Bros. strategy of a simultaneous release in theaters and on HBO Max. Let’s see if you should care about Jolie in this movie.
Those Who Wish Me Dead is directed by Taylor Sheridan, who wrote one of my favorite movies from 2016, Hell or High Water. There are multiple plot threads in this movie that predictably converge as these types of films do. Angelina Jolie plays Hannah, a smoke jumper in Montana who is dealing with a devastating loss in a previous fire. Finn Little plays Connor, a teenage boy on the run from the men who have been after him and his father. There are the assassins (Nicholas Hoult and Aidan Gillen) chasing after Connor and his father for some not clearly defined reason; and there is also John Bernthal, who is Connor’s uncle, and his pregnant wife that get caught in the literal and figurative cross fire. The action moves them towards the vast Montana wilderness as a fire encroaches and Bernthal, his wife, and Jolie attempt to protect Connor.
Those Who Wish Me Dead is nowhere near as taut or clever or fascinating or entertaining as Hell or High Water. Since the plot is really simple, even if the motivations of the characters are convoluted, the only hook there can be is whether you care about what happens to Connor. On a positive note, Finn Little is a good child actor. He makes Connor compelling and not annoying as many teens in these movies can be. Plus, Little has good chemistry with Jolie. The bond between Hannah and Connor is fast but believable. Ultimately, you want them to survive. I will shout out Medina Senghore, who plays Allison, Bernthal’s pregnant wife. She’s good and gets to have fun kicking butt while pregnant – the only other interesting cast member.
Everything else plot-wise is just meh – it could be any movie, happening anywhere with any cast of characters. Just add a fire and you got it! It’s like Twister except for tornadoes there is a forest fire and assassins after Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton.
Speaking of fire – I really feel duped. I thought there would be more of the actual fire in this movie. All of the promotion really sold the fire aspect and it’s so minimal. What we do get is fine, but ultimately disappointing. I don’t even know that watching it on a big screen would make it any more impressive. Also, Hannah is a smoke jumper, but we don’t get to see her do that! That feels like a missed opportunity and waste of Jolie’s action chops.
Those Who Wish Me Dead is an alright movie. There’s no real hook here that make anyone need to run out and see it immediately. It’s definitely not necessary to see in a movie theater. At best, it’s a Saturday afternoon in the background kind of movie. Take a handful of popcorn and look up every now and then when you and the buds are playing cards.