Don’t know nothing about Those Who Wish Me Dead; all I know is it’s supposed to be a Western Neo-noir thriller about a traumatized smoke jumper protecting a boy who’s on the run from contract killers. And I found out this is also from the director of Wind River so sounds fairly basic at face value, right?
On one hand, it succeeds at being a better 90’s throwback as opposed to The Little Things: acting is better, tone’s more consistent and the story as a whole is more vaguely interesting since the structure isn’t designed to be dickish and unrewarding. But at the same time, just like that movie, that initial vagueness results in yet another story that doesn’t feel as fleshed out as it wants itself to believe especially with that ending.
No problems with Angelina Jolie’s performance, she is mostly solid along with the rest of the cast including Finn Little who was surprisingly decent. Good enough for the material that was given but not enough to show their best. I could live with the sparse dialogue at hand here, they’re executed well and for the most part, not everything felt phoned in or sporadic. But it did feel hokey. Taylor Sheridan does do ok with the R-rating, music is perfectly average to where it’s impossible to really say anything on it and the production design would have to be what impressed me the most; Outside of being competently shot and edited, the spacious environment showcases some beautiful locations and utilizing them as well as they can and the pacing is no slouch either. The film uses its geographical landmark explicably well, trying to execute this tried-and-true cat and mouse game with this slow paced, restrained nature to the atmosphere it possesses. For anybody willing to look past the plotholes (and I’ll get to that soon), they will be entertained by some intense moments and action sequences.
Outside of the inherit lack of characterization and the implausibility behind some glaring inconsistencies, my problem is the story, more specifically the structure of it.
It is simplistic enough with a little bit of flair as it tries to keep the audience engaged by hooking them with riddles as the core question to why all of this is happening is hidden. Unfortunately, it doesn’t exactly help that the plot is riddled with deviating story bits that contradict each other or don’t make any luck of sense. And then, there’s the ending of said film that leaves more questions than answers as to who did what to whom and when and why. I did some research behind the book and it turns out the book ALSO has that same dry, questionable ending but that’s not the point. Slow start notwithstanding, the intrigue that’s built up early on quickly devolves into a linear chase flick with a conspicuously missing third act and leaves me wondering what the point of all this was.
You know how awkward it becomes when both this and The Little Things end rather abruptly and yet the latter feels more complete despite its insipid nature? That’s what it feels like right now. Both tease a better movie than the ones we ended up getting and instead end up feeling outdated.