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Movies & TV

05th Jun 2021

Those Who Wish Me Dead review: The kind of ’90s action movie they just don’t make anymore

Rory Cashin

The movie arrives in Irish cinemas next week.

There is a lot to be said for a remarkably solid three-star movie. The kind of movie that if you’re flicking through the stations at home and you happen to come across it just as it is starting, you’ll likely leave it on and watch it all the way through.

It seems unlikely that anyone involved is going to win any Oscars and the movie won’t be ending up on any Best Of lists come the end of the year, but they bring a certain element of enjoyment that you just don’t get from movies that are obviously trying harder.

The ’90s was the heyday for these kinds of movies. We’re talking the likes of Chain Reaction, Volcano, The Negotiator, Enemy Of The State, Twister, Executive Decision, Daylight, and on and on we could go. They had a simple core premise and one or maybe two stars keeping it all together with their undeniable screen presence.

It seemed like this particular sub-genre of movies had gone away forever, as we’re deep in the age when everything is deemed to be either five-stars or one-star and no room for anything in between, but Those Who Wish Me Dead is very much a callback to the kind of movie that Hollywood just doesn’t seem to make anymore.

In the movie, Angelina Jolie is an adrenaline-fuelled firefighter with a tragic backstory, now assigned to a fire watch tower in the middle of a forest.

One day, she happens to cross paths with a young boy (Finn Little, showing early signs of being the next Tom Holland), who is the only witness to a horrific crime. It turns out that two ruthless hitmen (Aidan Gillen and Nicholas Hoult) have been assigned to kill him. So it is up to Jolie to try to get him safely to the authorities before the killers – and the raging forest fire they started – catch up with them all.

Director Taylor Sheridan, who has previously written the script for Sicario and directed Hell Or High Water, leans fully into the over-the-top nature of the movie’s set-up, which is essentially one long chase sequence. He puts his stars through the wringer thanks to lightning storms, raging rivers, massive shoot outs, car crashes, protracted torture scenes and that big inferno that threatens to engulf everything.

Unlike Sheridan’s previous outings, both of which set the bar for how brilliant thrillers can actually be, he doesn’t seem to be aiming too high here, which is for the best. Same with Jolie, who does inject some pathos and emotion into her PTSD’d hero, but mostly seems to be coasting by on her irrefutable charm and believability in being an action star.

Those Who Wish Me Dead is a tense and exciting movie, and nothing more, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. You’ll likely end up watching it again in a few years time whenever it is shown on TV.

Those Who Wish Me Dead will arrive in Irish cinemas on Monday, 7 June.

Clips via WB UK & Ireland

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