Wild Card (2015)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BB.  

USA, 2015.  Lionsgate, SJ Heat Productions, Sierra / Affinity, Cinema Seven Productions, Current Entertainment, Quad Films, SJ Pictures, Silver State Production Services.  Screenplay by , based on his novel Heat.  Cinematography by .  Produced by .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by , .

William Goldman adapts his novel Heat for the second time, following the Burt Reynolds vehicle made by Dick Richards in 1986. This time the star is  as a bodyguard (with a very big office) who keeps high rolling gamblers safe as they drop big cash in Las Vegas casinos. He also does other odd jobs for pay when the price is right, as evidenced by a strange and badly paced opening sequence involving  trying to impress an inexplicably underused .  Statham has two odd circumstances enter his life on the same day when a young female friend of his tells him that she wants revenge on three bad guys who viciously raped and beat her in a casino the night before, and young billionaire  shows up asking for Statham’s protection services but actually wants to learn how to become a tough guy. What should be uncomplicated action movie fun is actually a messy jumbling of tone and pace, wasting the opportunity that Statham’s charisma provides by mixing badly shot fight scenes (with infuriating slow-mo shots that only ruin the momentum) with a plot that seems to be aimlessly grabbing at its next turn without ever finding the central conflict of the character. We are told that he dreams of retirement in Corsica and keeps getting his own way of achieving it, but there’s no believable indication of genuine weakness or self-doubt (Statham generally comes across as a sensible and standup guy) to say that we hope against hope that he will overcome his tragic flaw. Stanley Tucci provides the only shine in his rich characterization of Rat Pack cool, but other cast members like ,  and Hope Davis are as equally wasted as Vergara in what feels like a short action film rescued in the editing room from something much bigger and, god forbid, even messier.

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