Angelina Jolie has taken a break from playing Maleficent to return to the action genre.
This time, though, she plays a character with survival skills, rather than being a master martial artist or super spy.
In “Those Who Wish Me Dead,” Jolie portrays Hannah, an elite firefighter in Montana who’s trying to get over a traumatic event that took place about a year ago. Because of the experience, Hannah is taken off the frontlines and instead is stationed at a fire lookout tower.
Meanwhile, a father and his son Connor (Finn Little) go on the run. The father, Owen (Jake Weber), is an accountant mixed in a situation where he could potentially expose several financial scandals and therefore has a hit on him. Those looking to take Owen out do succeed, but Connor escapes. After doing so, he runs into Hannah, who takes on the task of protecting him.
“Wish Me Dead” is a well-intentioned, but overstuffed action thriller. The movie has the strength of an actress like Jolie, but underutilizes her in a story that bites off more than it can chew.
Along with Hannah and Connor’s quest for survival, the movie also introduces a whole side plot about the local county sheriff and his pregnant wife who also get mixed into the situation. These characters are portrayed well enough by their respective actors, but it almost feels like filler when the main thrust of the story is centered around Hannah reigniting her passion for protecting people as she looks out for Connor.
There’s enough drama going on with Hannah and Connor, and their attempts to evade the hitmen Jack (Aidan Gillen) and Patrick (Nicholas Hoult), that this side-plot felt excessive. It’s especially unnecessary as the film only clocks in at an hour and 40 minutes.
With that said, there’s fortunately not a dull moment when the film gets going. Even the segments with the sheriff and his wife offer a lot of entertainment value.
The star element of the film remains Hannah’s efforts, though. Watching her have to get back to her survival skills and become personable again as she embraces her responsibility is compelling and exciting.
Hannah has to clean wounds, avoid lightning, watch the direction of a fire and fight off trained hitmen, all while counseling a kid who just witnessed his father’s murder.
Jolie is really good in the role, too. She captures her character’s initial indifference and trauma nicely, as well as Hannah’s resolve and protective spirit in the second half.
The rest of the cast is pretty good here, too. While not the most deep villains, Gillen and Hoult bring a cold, menacing nature to their roles. Credit has to go to Little, too, as he does well with a heavy role for a young performer.
“Those who Wish Me Dead” doesn’t reinvent the wheel when it comes to the action thriller genre and the story is a bit bloated, but it gets a lot right. This is a great action film for an afternoon matinee. 3.5 out of 5.