Those Who Wish Me Dead director: Taylor Sheridan
Those Who Wish Me Dead rating: 3 stars
Action-thriller Those Who Wish Me Dead, written and directed by Taylor Sheridan, has Angelina Jolie playing a serious, dramatic role after a long time. While the film is quite conventional in its genre and its plot moves along a predictable path, it is elevated by strong performances, well-drawn characters, and pacing.
Jolie essays the role of a smokejumper called Hannah Faber who is posted at a fire lookout tower. Dealing with guilt over something that happened in her past, she holds herself responsible for the deaths of three children and a fellow smokejumper in a forest fire.
Happy to the world, Hannah has suicidal tendencies. Her path crosses a child called Connor (Finn Little) who is hunted by two ruthless assassins who have already killed his father. She takes it upon herself to protect the kid from harm no matter what. Her motive is as much to save an innocent life as it is to redeem herself in her eyes.
Sheridan, who also wrote (but did not direct) 2016’s brilliant Hell or High Water, also a Neo Western feature, brings some of that film’s sensibilities here, particularly that feeling that each character seems just world-weary — tired of their job and their life. The effect is less consistent, but still compelling. This is largely due to good writing, at least when it comes to characters, and performances.
The film has an uncommonly good, deep cast for a mid-tier production. Apart from Jolie, Joe Bernthal plays the role of Deputy Sherriff Ethan, who along with his wife Allison (Medina Senghore) gets tangled in the conflict. Aidan Gillen and Nicholas Hoult are the assassins.
Jolie is excellent here, displaying vulnerability and strength in turn. It is clearly a difficult role that she manages to pull off.
Gillen and Hoult play the role of assassins with an impassive, eerie menace. It is not often you see actors of such calibre given such, well, thinly written roles, and they do their job well — which is basically being frightening bad guys.
Overall, Those Who Wish Me Dead is a capable action-thriller that is entertaining and well-acted but is also admittedly a bit garden-variety. If you are looking for something fresh or profound, there are other options. But if you just want to have a good time, you can’t go wrong with this one.
In India, Those Who Wish Me Dead is available on Book My Show Stream.