The Conservative Critic
Those Who Wish Me Dead: No Agenda, but…
For Those Who Wish They Weren’t Bored: Those Who Wish Me Dead released to theaters and HBO Max this week to not much fanfare despite its star studded cast and action packed plot line.
From wildfires to shoot outs to Angelina Jolie in her action hero prime, did Those Who Wish Me Dead bring the heat or will it leave you wishing you were dead…asleep. The Conservative Critic checked it out for you and asked the important questions: Is it Entertaining? Does it have artistic/intellectual value? And Is it Liberal Propaganda?
The Conservative Critic, Those Who Wish Me Dead, Meter Check:
Overall Rating: Pretty Good
Those Who Wish Me Dead combines an impressive talent roster with a nostalgic albeit mind bending plot line which sync up to provide a quality film which leans heavily on its entertainment value to mask its tropes and pitfalls.
For me, entertainment goes a long way. Shortcomings or not, the film is fun to watch and deserves a decent rating. Its worth streaming if you have HBO Max and I’d even venture to say it’s worth getting back to the theater for a date night or afternoon alone.
Following the unlikely (quite unlikely) meeting of a hot shot smoke jumper played by the indomitable Angelina Jolie and a young boy who is caught up in the consequences of his father’s deeds It’s pretty good and you’ll have a pretty good time watching it.
Is it Entertaining?
Rating: Thrill Ride
It’s a thriller and it lives up to its genre. First of all, I’m an Angelina Jolie stan and shamelessly so. My favorite Angelina is basically her in any variation of her iconic role as Laura Croft, Tomb Raider. This film gives her the space to be taken a bit seriously but also kick butt and there is nothing more fun for me than that.
Everything that is wrong with this movie (see more below) makes it right in terms of a fun watch. You have baddies with big guns and intrigue. You have car crashes, you have thunderstorms, shoot outs, fist fights and all set to a raging wildfire. There is blood. There is burn. There is angst. You’ll bite your nails and you’ll watch wide eyed as the improbably and unexplained plot unfolds before you.
Jolie as the fearless fire fighter, Hannah and her companion young Connor played by newcomminer Finn Litter are very easy to root for and easier to watch with their natural mother/son type chemistry.
Does it matter that nothing makes sense and the science behind their plot is extremely wrong? No it does not matter. The moment a pregnant woman grabs a gun and takes on some hitmen in defense of her sheriff husband (you heard me) the movie becomes extraordinary.
Does it have intellectual/artistic value?
The movie quite simply makes no sense. Those Who Wish Me Dead (Those) begins in Fort Lauderdale and ends up in Montana without ever explaining why or how that occurred so quickly which is a physical metaphor for the cockymammy writing.
The plot is reminiscent of old school 80s action movies where a bunch of unrelated events somehow happen at the same time to build a more dramatic crescendo with no apology for the unlikeliness of those events lining up (think Escape from New York).
There are bad bad men played by good good actors, Nicholas Hoult (X-Men, Tolkien) and Aiden Gillen (Game of Thrones, Peaky Blinders) chasing after a nice man played by Jake Webber (Medium, Midway) because he betrayed them somehow. How or why is unknown and never explained. The nice man has a son, Connor who to survive the bad men flees to the woods. Meanwhile, totally unrelated, Angelina Jolie’s Hannah is reliving her past trauma having failed to save the lives of a family in a bad forest fire and in doing so performing random acts of adrenaline much to the ire of her best friend, Sheriff Ethan no last name played by Jon Bernthal (The Walking Dead, The Punisher). But ah ha see what you don’t know is that Sheriff Ethan is, inexplicably, friends with the nice man from before and so is his pregnant wife played by newcomer,Medina Senghore. This extremely loose, never explained, tie between the Sheriff and the nice man causes these seemingly totally unrelated worlds to collide…kind of. They also kind of collide by total accident. Insert massive wildfire. This is the story somehow.
The absolutely mind melting, unasked for and unanswered disastrous writing which somehow is extremely watchable is actually unsurprising considering it is brought to viewers by Taylor Sheridan who also wrote and directed Sicario (still don’t know what happened in that movie or where they were at any given time) and the truly sensational Wind River.
It helps that much like in his other films, Sheridan leans heavily on talent. Hoult, Gillen and Jolie are all powerhouse actors who can bring heat (ha!) to any role and make it fun to watch. Plus Senghore really holds her own as the pregnant bad ass hunting down baddies.
Is it liberal propaganda?
Rating: No agenda here
There is seemingly no agenda in this film liberal or otherwise. If anything it has an ever so slight tip to the right due to its celebration of first responders and law enforcement. Sheridan’s style historically is unpredictable in its political lens. His work always circles around something inherently political such as the US/Mexico border in Sicario or the tragic prevalence of violence against native women like Wind River. In this film, we see a world of financial crime (I think…it’s wildly unclear) and the uptick of forest fires. These are extremely hot political issues of the day and yet at no time does Sheridan reference corporate greed or climate change. The restraint is not only admirable but it makes the film more enjoyable because viewers are actually smart enough to draw their own conclusions without being force fed. Bravo to Sheridan for his ability to tackle hot topics (ha – fire) without pushing any particular agenda or bias.
Those Who Wish Me Dead may not be a must-see – but it’s a good movie with a big presence from a worthy Director. The talent roster is impressive with Angelina Jolie shining as the action star centerpiece she’s meant to be. It’s worth a watch for anyone looking for a classic and bit nostalgic action film but not for filmies who need plot lines to “make sense.”