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Chris Kavan's Movie Reviews (3227)

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Wild Card (2015) 
Wild Card Manages to Just Break Even
2.5/4 stars

The words "Leading Man Jason Statham" is pretty much synonymous with "I will find a way to punch and/or kick myself out of this problem". From The Transporter to Crank to The Expendables - Statham is a an action star through and through. But it also leads to repetition and falling into a rut. The closest he's come to elevating himself was with Hummingbird - a role that gave him a bit depth beyond shooting and fighting. Wild Card, directed by Simon West (who worked with Statham previously in the remake of The Mechanic) is a remake of the forgettable 1986 Burt Reynolds vehicle, Heat.

Statham plays a Las Vegas bodyguard with a serious gambling problem. When a female friend (Dominik García-Lorido) winds up broken and beaten, she turns to him to help get revenge on the petty criminal (Milo Ventimiglia) and his goons who landed her in the hospital. While trying to decide whether to risk his life, he also finds himself chaperoning a shy, introverted tourist (Michael Angarano) around the town. A lot of famous faces show up for brief cameos - including Stanley Tucci as local boss Baby, Anne Heche as his diner waitress, Hope David as a dealer he may or may not have a thing for, along with Jason Alexander and Sofia Vergara. All are relegated to pretty much bit parts - which is too bad, as I think many of them deserved a much larger part of the disjointed story.

The issue is that the editing is all over the place - it's like they couldn't decide on one decent story (the woman's revenge, a gambling problem, helping a young man with issues, escaping the life one finds himself trapped in) so they threw everything to see what would stick. That makes for a very shaky story and while parts work, as a whole, it's kind of all over the place. Plus, for a Staham movie, there is a surprising lack of action. On one hand, it does give some depth to the main character, but, on the other hand, it's also a bit disappointing as you expect Statham to go all out. There are really just three decent fight scenes - most of the film is Statham brooding and drinking.

In the end, Wild Card wants to elevate the standard Statham mold into something more. It halfway succeeds, and with a tighter story I think it could have been better. That being said - if you've enjoyed Statham in the past, this is a solid choice. The cameos are nice, it goes a bit deeper than a standard action film (even if its narrative is a mess) and the few action scenes are worth it. It's isn't Hummingbird, but it certainly isn't as bad as the original it was based on.


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