Those Who Wish Me Dead is a by the numbers thriller
Angelina Jolie returns to the action genre in writer/director Taylor Sheridan's, Those Who Wish Me Dead from Warner Bros. Pictures. The film is an adaptation of author Michal Koryta's same-titled 2014 novel. Smokejumper Hannah Faber (Angelina Jolie) is in depression after failing to prevent the deaths of three young campers and a fellow smokejumper in a forest fire, and refuses to go back on the active part of the job. She now spends her days posted in a fire lookout tower in Park County, Montana.
Meanwhile, in a nearby city, The Blackwell brothers Patrick (Nicholas Hoult) and Jack (Aidan Gillen) make a living as assassins and are currently wiping out anyone who can incriminate their mysterious boss. One of their next targets is forensic accountant Owen (Jake Weber), who learns that his boss has died in a mysterious gas explosion. Putting two and two together, Owen knows he's the next target and realizes he must go on the run with his son Connor (Finn Little).
Without that many options, Owen decides to turn to his brother-in-law, Ethan Sawyer (Jon Bernthal), a Deputy Sheriff and Hannah's ex-beau. Naturally, the hitmen catch up to Owen, where he dies a violent death, forcing Connor to go on the run alone where he crosses paths with Hannah. The smoke jumper finds herself as the boy's protector until help can arrive in the morning.
Taylor Sheridan is one of my favorite Hollywood writers, and while we wait for Season 4 of Yellowstone to arrive, Sheridan provided fans with two films in 2021; April's Without Remorse and now Those Who Wish Me Dead. Regretfully though, Those Who Wish Me Dead comes off as more of a for-hire job and not a passion project.
Now that isn't to say I didn't enjoy Those Who Wish Me Dead. As the nineties-styled throwback thriller I grew up on, the film is fine. The issue lies in the routines of the film. Most notably is the handling of our primary villains portrayed by Nicholas Hoult and Aidan Gillen. Both men are fine in the role, but their characters reek of nineties-style villains.
were would have preferred an expansion of the Blackwells' employer, mob boss Arthur Phillip, portrayed by Tyler Perry. Perry shows up for an all too brief cameo, and in his quick five minutes, he gives a nuanced menacing vibe. It would have been great to see Perry flex his range as a big bad guy for the entire flick. Angelina Jolie doesn't do anything either that we didn’t see her do in The Bone Collector or Taking Lives.
Similar vibes carry through for Jon Bernthal, who gives an autopilot performance. The highlights of the film for me, acting-wise, was Medina Senghore as Allison and Finn Little as Connor. Both were newcomers and deliver two of the strongest performances in the movie. The film should have focused on the Allison character as our lead.
Nevertheless, even if Those Who Wish Me Dead is a weaker entry in Sheridan's catalog, the film is a solid time-waster, worth a one-time view.
Final Grade: C