Here are two words that will get everyone running to the nearest cinema the minute they can help it. Angelina Jolie + a new thriller movie — Those Who Wish Me Dead. Yes, Angelina Jolie has starred in an action-heavy movie 11 years after her last project in this genre…and, naturally, we just had to see it.
So, since we’ve just watched Those Who Wish Me Dead, it’s time we shared our opinion on it. And, more importantly, whether or not you should watch it.
warning: will contain spoilers
Those Who Wish Me Dead starts off with a bang. Literally. After we meet Patrick (Nicholas Hoult) and Jack (Aidan Gillen, AKA GOT’s Littlefinger), we see as they disguise themselves as cops who later blow up a house with a whole family inside for reasons unknown to us. Immediately, we jump off to Owen (Jack Weber) and his son Connor (Finn Little) as they have a wholesome breakfast that’s interrupted when Owen realizes he’s next on the Death List because of the information he has from his now dead-and-burned boss and so goes on the run with his son.
As this happens, we meet Hannah (Angelina Jolie, obviously), her ex Sheriff Ethan (Jon Bernthal) her crew of smokejumpers (a special fire fighting team that literally jumps out of the sky to combat wild forest fires) at an event, where it’s hinted that Hannah is being punished by being demoted to a tower-watcher in the forest.
And then the movie zigzags, going between showing us Connor and his dad on the run to Ethan’s house and giving us little hints of why Hannah is so traumatized and basically untrusted within her force…and that is, the fact that she failed in leading a forest fire mission that ended with three little boys burning to death.
But wait, that’s not all the trauma we see. In a flash, Patrick and Jack manage to catch up to Owen and Connor and kill Owen in front of his son, who runs away and hides with the secret information his dad just gave him. The plot quickly thickens as Connor runs into Hannah at the forest and they team up as they try outrun the assassins, who leave no stone unturned as they cause a massive forest fire to cover their trail and target Ethan and his wife Allison (Medina Senghore) to get to Connor.
Thankfully, though, all’s (relatively) well by the end. With several close calls and near-deaths, Hannah and Connor bond as they as well as Ethan and Allison fend off the assassins and escape the forest fire, leaving us on an open-ended yet hopeful note of what life holds for Connor and everyone else afterwards.
Let’s Talk About the Good Things
If you go into Those Who Wish Me Dead with the lens of a nostalgia lover, you’re going to see it as great . After all, it’s something a neo-Western AND 90’s-style thriller, where there are no dull moments and a whole lot of mysteries to keep you thinking about just what is going on.
There’s also a lot to say when it comes to the performances, especially Angelina Jolie’s as she gives us a Hannah that’s realistic to her circumstances as a PTSD-ridden smokejumper, who’s not willing to leave another helpless kid behind, and Medina Senghore’s Alison, who quite literally has one of THE most intense scenes in the movie as she fends off two assassins in her survivalist school.
Another thing we loved was the fact that, despite the performances, nature was the undisputed star of Those Who Wish Me Dead, with strong winds, shocking lightning storms, and will fires that are just as daunting as they are beautiful ruling quite a lot of scenes, sometimes giving us a subtle commentary on natural and manmade destruction.
Now, Onto the Bad Things
If we’re being quite honest, Those Who Wish Me Dead would have been better if it was a TV show. No, honestly. Just think about it. We meet all of these characters, with no real fleshing out despite experiencing trauma after trauma, because the story just doesn’t have the time.
We also know nothing about the “secret information” Patrick and Jack are killing everyone over. We don’t even really know who Patrick and Jack are working for or what that man wants. And we certainly don’t know anything about Hannah and what happened with her, her ex Ethan, and his wife Allison.
The thing is, these are all intriguing mysteries to explore and that’s why giving this story a TV show instead of a movie would’ve done it justice. It would have also done the landscape of the Montana forest a lot of justice too and it wouldn’t hurt that we would have ACTUALLY seen some smokejumpers on the job.
All in all, Those Who Wish Me Dead is NOT a bad movie. It just might not be your cup of tea if you’ve gotten yourself used to fleshed out protagonists and inner turmoil rather than having this turmoil be very blatantly external.
If you’re missing the good old days of “gruff on the outside, gentle on the inside hero saves runaway kid” thrillers, though, this movie will be right up your alley. And Angelina Jolie is the hero here, so that’s always a bonus.