Angelina Jolie is back!
THOSE WHO WISH ME DEAD (2021)
Angelina Jolie is back! While the public got their Jolie fix in an assortment of children’s movies, the last time we saw her in anything that’s more adult oriented was 2015’s By the Sea, a romantic drama. Those Who Wish Me Dead brings us action hero Jolie, but does it kick bad guy butt, or does it fall flat?
Taylor Sheridan LOVES the wilderness (as seen in almost all his other films), and it’s not shocking the woods take center stage in this action thriller. While some may find Sheridan’s obsession with seemingly capturing every single tree in the woods a little slow paced, the beautiful cinematography truly places you in the characters’ minds and explains their love for their rural location. Sheridan as an auteur isn’t for everyone, but one has to give him credit for the beautiful films he creates, even if the plots are lacking.
It truly is refreshing to see Jolie as Lara Croft grown up, kicking ass as a smokejumper dealing with a complicated past; however, her appeal is lost in a plotline with far too many characters and a rather subdued character arc. At times, the film doesn’t quite know what it wants to be, vacillating between traditional action and thriller arcs with a dash of neo-westernism. If the script has been brought in just a little bit, we’d probably feel a little more kinship with those we’re watching. What we do have can feel weak, but the performances and overall enthralling storyline make up for a rather lackluster script that feels much longer than its 100 minute running time.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
Jolie provides her usual sultriness used to hide a character exploring an array of emotions, but her performance feels like she’s dialing in rather than truly enjoying the role. Instead, what really stands out is the supporting cast. Nicholas Hoult, Aiden Gillen, Finn Little, John Bernthal, and Medina Senghore deliver enjoyable performances that carry the story along (with special emphasis on Senghore), and the times we see Jake Weber are a nice treat. Characters are a little ho-hum, which just like the plot, would have been fixed with some tightening up and more development.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
The visual effects truly are stunning, especially when one watches the fire scenes that almost feel like the heat is radiating off the screen. What brings the movie down are the makeup effects. Without spoiling too much, the hair and makeup almost always looks pristine even after characters have been running, swimming, or fighting fires—minus a few carefully placed smudges that never wreck an appearance.
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
The music and score are pretty standard fare. Nothing is going to blow your socks off, nor does it feel like it shouldn’t be in there; however, the sound design needs a lot of work. Sounds vacillate in their intensity, and at home viewers are likely to need to change the volume multiple times throughout the film. What does work works very well, but what doesn’t is exceptionally bad and overshadows the film.
While not a bad movie, no one is seeing anything they haven’t seen a thousand times before. Jolie’s comeback is rather lackluster, but the film is still a fun watch if someone has two hours to kill. Hopefully the next Sheridan/Jolie collaboration will feature a tighter storyline that showcases both their strengths.