Movie Review – The Hollywood Reporter

Taylor Sheridan combines the elemental terror of the malicious nature with the chilling fear of being chased by a pair of highly skilled hitmen to create a suspenseful effect in Those who wish me death. If you can overcome Angelina Jolie’s miraculously rosy complexion and smoky gaze as a hardened Montana Forest Service firefighter, it’s great to see her again in movie star fashion in an adult thriller. Her role allows for demon gnawing, motherly warmth, and survival skills, including cool retribution with an ax.

Like Sheridan’s directorial debut Wind river, this New Line thriller mixes the western DNA of the sky with the steel violence and unwavering carnage of a more contemporary crime. This does not match the finely engraved characterizations and contemplative writing of his original screenplay for Against all odds, but even though the quilting genre isn’t entirely transparent, it’s a hugely entertaining throwback to ’90s studio flicks about real people navigating hairy life-and-death situations.

Those who wish me death

Release date: Friday May 14
Throw away: Angelina Jolie, Finn Little, Nicholas Hoult, Aidan Gillen, Jake Weber, Medina Senghore, Jon Bernthal, Tyler Perry, Boots Southerland
Director: Taylor Sheridan
Scriptwriters: Michael Koryta, Charles Leavitt, Taylor Sheridan, based on Koryta’s book

Rated R, 1 hour 40 minutes

The film features smokejumper hotshot Hannah (Jolie) as one of the tough-talking guys, commanding respect while tolerating flirtation from the men on her team. But a flashback to them parachuting into a forest blaze shows the pain that fuels her nightmares, when she misread the direction of the wind and was left to watch helplessly as three boys were consumed by the flames. In what appears to be a quest for atonement through voluntary exile in the wild, she takes up a position at the head of a secluded forest watchtower, in an area not far from Ethan’s house. (Jon Bernthal), her ex-boyfriend from the sheriff’s office.

Meanwhile, in the upscale suburb of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, two men posing as public service representatives, Jack (Aidan Gillen) and Patrick (Nicholas Hoult), knock on the district attorney’s door to verify a possible gas leak. On the coast in Jacksonville, Owen (Jake Weber), a forensic accountant who uncovered corruption at the highest levels of government, sees a report on the results of that visit to the prosecutor’s house. He grabs his preteen son Connor (Finn Little) and rushes out of town, knowing there is a target on his back.

Widower Owen enlists the help of his former brother-in-law Ethan, whose wife, Allison (Medina Senghore), runs a survival camp they’ve attended before. But as the father and son head to Montana in search of a sanctuary, contract killers Jack and Patrick have a head start on them. Their bloody encounter on a quiet stretch of road outside of town leaves Connor traumatized and alone, keeping a written account of his father’s findings, with instructions to pass it on to the press.

The boss of the hitmen (Tyler Perry in a dismal cameo) shows up in Montana to let them know he’s unhappy with the details. Describing the situation as a zero-sum game, he asks them to spare no one, so Jack lights a fire to create a distraction as they stalk their prey.

Adapted by detective writer Michael Koryta from his novel with Charles Leavitt (Blood diamond) and Sheridan, the film moves forward at a steady pace, led by the muscular orchestral score of Brian Tyler. The moving feeling of the grandeur and loneliness of the border country that Sheridan has shown in both his films and his work on television Yellowstone places the characters in a vast web, requiring all of their resources to stay alive. This includes not only Hannah and Connor, who become the emotional hub of the thriller as they gain each other’s trust, but also heavily pregnant Ethan and Allison, whose quick thinking gives the killers an incredibly opponent. formidable.

The murderous sets are dealt with with quick efficiency, especially once Jack and Patrick get close to Hannah’s Watchtower, and the climax puts her and Connor between the killers and the overwhelming fire. This sense of nature as an unstoppable force of destruction is planted early, when Hannah and Connor must traverse an open field during a turbulent electrical storm. But it’s really hammered down the home stretch, as the voracious flames draw closer, devouring everything in their path.

The film was shot in New Mexico, with production designer Neil Spisak creating a man-made forest with a stream running through it, along with watchtowers. In beautiful widescreen settings and spectacular aerial views, DP Ben Richardson (who shot Wind river and a number of Yellowstone episodes) captures the instantaneous changes that transform landscapes from tranquility to threat.

When it comes to character development, it was suggested early on that Jack is the sadistic and seasoned assassin and Patrick his deferential junior. But the potential of taking that dynamic to an interesting place is unexplored, and Patrick’s reluctance to kill children and pregnant women could have used more careful grounds. That said, Gillen and Hoult get the job done.

The good guys have more room to breathe which results in tender moments between Senghore and Bernthal. In the opening scenes, Ethan still shows some residual sexual chemistry with Hannah, and Allison seems secure enough in her marriage to live with it. Australian actor Little, in his first American role, strikes a sympathetic balance between Connor’s stunned vulnerability and his eagerness to appear harsher than his age would imply. Jolie brings her usual physical flexibility to action scenes and keeps tight control over feeling elsewhere. After initially assessing the child with cool detachment, Hannah quickly delves into her unusual role as a protector, finding an avenue for redemption. The main arcs of the well-crafted film may be largely predictable, but it’s an emotionally satisfying and captivating watch.

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