Those Who Wish Me Dead Movie Review
Names aren’t everything, but if the terribly--or at least instantly forgettably--titled Those Who Wish Me Dead were to be judged by name alone, the review would be an adequate representation of this awkwardly made misfire starring Angelina Jolie.
In Those Who Wish Me Dead, which in the 90s would have been called something cool like Fire Flamers, Jolie delivers an utterly flat performance as an emotionally traumatized wilderness firefighter who must rescue a boy on the run from two assassins. Meanwhile, these killers, played by Aidan Gillan and Nicholas Hoult, proceed to murder several people, start a massive forest fire, and force a police officer (Jon Bernthal) to help track the boy through the woods while the officer’s survivalist wife (Medina Senghore) tracks them.
The movie in fact would have been more at home in the 90s as the plot and story beats are a bit ludicrous, but not in the outwardly intentional way that may have worked but wholly unintentionally due to shoddy writing, directing, and editing. Those Who Wish Me Dead feels like several movies shoved together, the sum being less than the parts. The Angelina Jolie storyline is by far the least interesting, as she spends most of the movie doing nothing and then, eventually, is inadvertently drawn into broader events. Gillan and Hoult are more compelling to watch if only for the fact that they are killing people, but the one-dimensional characters they have to work with are limiting to say the least.
The movie I really would have wanted to see but didn’t know at the time was one about assassins crossing paths with a couple of survivalists, but this subplot was clearly an afterthought.
Regardless, Those Who Wish Me Dead simply doesn’t feel like a completely realized creation. Too little of it makes sense when you attempt to view it as a whole, and then there are sequences like the lightning storm scene that are just head-scratching bad. Combined with the poorly defined characters and the lack of cohesiveness between them, the movie is a mess.
And yet it does offer entertainment value. At a merciful 100 minutes, Those Who Wish Me Dead offers fast pacing and enough death and mayhem to hold your attention. While I wouldn’t recommend the movie, once you start watching it strings you along well enough.
The biggest disappointment is that Taylor Sheridan is the man behind it all. After writing Sicario, Hell and High Water, and Wind River in 2015, 2016, and 2017--all three are among my favorites of those respective years, with Hell and High Water easily one of the best movies of the decade--Sheridan made the lackluster Sicario: Rise of the Soldado, the bland Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse, and now this silly disaster. Sheridan’s success is starting to look like a three-year flash in the pan, and it’s getting farther and further in the rearview mirror.
Those Who Wish Me Dead doesn’t lack in entertainment value, but it is not a good movie. The name, after all, was a dead giveaway.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.