‘Wrath of Man’ and ‘Spiral: From The Book of Saw’: Two major new movies worth checking out

JUNE 5 — In pre-Covid-19 times, the arrival of June would’ve meant the beginning of the summer movie season, with some studios even choosing to release their big titles in May in order to avoid the glut of big new movies opening in June and July. 

The pandemic has resulted in the movie industry having to readjust their release and marketing strategies, with a lot of movies ending up being sold to one of the major subscription-based streamers (or SVOD in industry terms) like Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO Max, Disney+ and Hulu.

The release dates for the really huge titles like Black Widow, The King’s Man, The Batman, No Time To Die, Jurassic World: Dominion and Spider-Man: No Way Home have kept on being pushed back, probably because they just cost too much to make and the studios are still hoping for a wide theatrical release to be possible in order to recoup their costs faster and hopefully make more profits, but it remains to be seen whether this would be possible in the near future, although the situation does seem to be improving at least in the US and the UK where football matches have now seen a limited number of people being allowed to attend, and even “live” shows and music festivals have started to announce new dates.

While it’s looking like it’ll still be quite a while for us to get to experience new movies in cinemas here, meaning that we’ll be missing the theatrical release of big new films like A Quiet Place 2, Wrath Of Man and Spiral: From The Book Of Saw, which are now playing in some cinemas overseas, thankfully the studios have at least settled on a release model that more or less allows the movies to play both in cinemas and on VOD. 

So, even if we won’t be able to watch Jason Statham being his usual badass self on the big screen this time, at least we’ll get to do so on the small screen at home. 

I’ve managed to catch the latter two, so here’s what I think about them!

Jason Statham is his usual badass self in ‘Wrath of Man’. — Screen capture via YouTube/MGM
Jason Statham is his usual badass self in ‘Wrath of Man’. — Screen capture via YouTube/MGM

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Wrath Of Man

Guy Ritchie looked to be back to his best with his last film The Gentlemen, which was just as funny and played just as smoothly as his best films like Snatch and Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels. 

His latest film Wrath Of Man, reportedly a very loose remake of the French film Le Convoyeur aka Cash Truck (which I haven’t seen), while clearly one of his best films yet, is nowhere near in the same mood as his trademark bloke-y gangster comedies. 

Statham plays a character called H (a shortened nickname from Patrick Hill) who joins an armoured car company as a driver, and who might just be hiding something and is on a mission that’s more than just to drive an armoured truck that carries a lot of money.

Ritchie still delights in telling his story in non-linear fashion, as in a lot of his previous films, so we’ll find out about H’s intentions and the backstories gradually, but where this really differs from his previous films is how dark the mood here is. 

While Statham is still provided with plenty of funny one-liners, there’s way less jokey banter here and Ritchie seems to be aiming for some seriously dark and emotional revenge movie vibes, which I think he pulled off quite handsomely. 

An involving watch from start to finish, let’s hope this signals a new period of excellence from Ritchie, which is something that I’d always welcome.

Spiral: From The Book Of Saw

A movie in the Saw universe starring Chris Rock? How would that even work? That’s the first thought that came to mind when I first heard about this project. 

Spiral is the ninth entry in the long-running Saw franchise, which has already seen a reboot previously, making this the second reboot attempt, roping in not only the talents of Rock and Samuel L. Jackson, but also director Darren Lynn Bousman, who helmed parts II, III and IV of the franchise.

Is it any good? I guess that will depend on what you’re looking for with this film. 

If you’re looking for more of the same when it comes to the grisly traps and torture apparatus that are hallmarks of the franchise, you might be slightly disappointed as the ones here are just not as inventive and gory as the ones we’ve witnessed before. 

The mystery part of the film, which this one provides plenty of as it’s more or less a police procedural as Rock’s character Zeke and his fresh new partner (played by Max Minghella) investigate the brutal murder of cops happening all around the city by what looks to be a Jigsaw copycat killer, is so repetitive that I can bet that you’ll be able to guess the two main suspects even before the film enters its halfway mark.

What I liked about the film was Rock himself, and the number of one-liners he shoots off as he plays the cop as if he’s in a buddy cop comedy, but all these tonal differences just never really gel together, leaving behind a Saw film that’s admirable enough to attempt to do something a wee bit different, but never really succeeding at coming up with a competent and cohesive whole.

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.

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