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Those Who Wish Me Dead review: Angelina Jolie’s thriller doesn’t quite catch fire

Sheridan’s previous scripts – be it Sicario, Hell or High Water or Wind River – have managed to keep the audience on tenterhooks with isolated settings and intense moments that have left the characters vulnerable. But In Those Who Wish Me Dead, Sheridan falters while trying to do that.

3.0
Sanjith Sidhardhan
Jun 07, 2021
 
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It’s been a while since an Angelina Jolie-starrer had hit the screens. For Those Who Wish Me Dead, the Hollywood actress teams up with Taylor Sheridan, who has scripted gems such as Sicario and Hell or High Water and directed Wind River. For the Indian audience, the survival thriller will be streaming on Book My Show Stream from June 10.

What’s it about?

A former firefighter Hannah Faber (Angelina Jolie), who is relegated to manning a lookout tower as punishment for a bad decision, comes across teenager Connor (Finn Little), who is on the run from two assassins in the forests of Montana. After the assassins kill Connor’s father for unearthing a conspiracy, Hannah is tasked with protecting the boy’s life while also avoiding a raging wildfire that spreads across the region and reminds her of her past that cost the lives of three children. Amid this, the assassins also cross paths with deputy sheriff Ethan (Jon Bernthal) and his pregnant wife Allison (Medina Senghore).

What’s hot?

The movie’s strength are the characters played by Jolie and Senghore, who are the protagonists of the film. The movie subverts a familiar trope by having the men be the sacrificial lambs and lets the women take the lead.

In one of the scenes, Medina’s Allison comes face to face with the two assassins (Nicholas Hoult and Aiden Gillen). Usually in films when a pregnant woman who is at the end of her second trimester battles two expert marksmen, it’s fair to assume that she would come out on the losing side. But here, Sheridan cleverly uses that predictability to sidestep that narrative and, in the process, shows the stronger side of women, even (or especially) when they are reminded of their unborn child like Gillen’s character does.

Sheridan does the same with Jolie’s Hannah, who is tormented by her past but still has the wits about her to take gauge lightning strikes, wildfires and literally go toe-to-toe with an assassin with just her pickaxe. Jolie and Little’s scenes together lend humour to this otherwise damp thriller, which somehow saves itself in the dying minutes with a few poignant scenes.

What’s not?

Sheridan’s previous scripts – be it Sicario, Hell or High Water or Wind River – have managed to keep the audience on tenterhooks with isolated settings and intense moments that have left the characters vulnerable. What actually made these work is how these characters’ pain and mental torment were so well fleshed out that the audience travelled with them. But In Those Who Wish Me Dead, Sheridan falters while trying to do that. In the wide expanse of Montana, even with a fire raging and assassins on the hunt, the danger never seems real.

The movie also doesn’t do justice to its stellar cast that has actors such as Bernthal, Hoult, Gillen and a cameo by Tyler Perry. Hoult and Gillen’s characters aren’t menacing enough, taking away from the suspense factor. Apart from the last few scenes, the wildfire doesn’t quite come in to play either.

Verdict

The best moments from Those Who Wish Me Dead come from its female leads, Angelina and Medina. But even their stellar acts aren’t enough to start a fire that could propel the film.

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