Watch Now:Powered by
Those Who Wish Me Dead had a lot of potential. An action thriller starring Angelina Jolie, Jon Bernthal, Aidan Gillen, and Nicholas Hoult, taking place in the forest of Montana, with wildfires that our characters have to navigate? It sounds great, and I was excited for it. Unfortunately, the three main storylines, which we know early on will be converging, are each pretty ridiculous. Ridiculous can be okay with action movies — it can even be awesome. But it doesn’t work here.
Those Who Wish Me Dead starts out with a bang (literally) as our bad guys, Jack (Gillen) and Patrick (Hoult) cause the home of a Fort Lauderdale, FL District Attorney to blow up in a gas line explosion. Owen (Jake Weber) is a forensic accountant for the District Attorney, and he knows that the DA was killed because of something that he discovered — fearing for his life, Owen and his son Connor (Finn Little), head to Montana to hide out with their Sheriff relative Ethan (Bernthal).
While you might think that you’ll eventually find out what exactly Owen discovered, this actually isn’t important at all. As much time as we spend with our bad guys Jack and Patrick, we never find out what it is that they want, besides murder. And murder they do. They’re ruthless and over-the-top criminals, unquestioningly doing everything “the job” requires of them and then some. It’s pretty unbelievable, what these two will do, and even more unbelievable how Jack just carries on with his mission after half of his face is burned off.
Maybe I’m biased because I’ve seen Game of Thrones, so I have a hard time separating Aidan Gillen from Littlefinger. Minus the accent and the costumes, though, Gillen is basically the same character here in Those Who Wish Me Dead. But more cartoonish, less conniving. Nicholas Hoult is the more reasonable of the two as Patrick, and he could have carried the “bad guy” storyline on his own, probably much more effectively.
Those Who Wish Me Dead is only an hour and 40 minutes long; considering how much time the “good guys” spend running from Jack and Patrick, and running from a wildfire, you’d think this movie would be suspenseful, even without the ridiculous villains. But it’s hard to care about any of our characters when we don’t really know what they want. The most interesting characters, by far, are Ethan and his wife Allison (Medina Senghorne). They’re treated like side-characters though, and we don’t spend nearly enough time with them as their story warrants.
Hannah, who is mostly called H (I assume to really underline the point that she’s “one of the guys”) has PTSD from a previous fire that ended in tragedy, due to an error that she blames herself for. The event is shown to us in flashbacks over and over again. It’s not a very nuanced portrayal of PTSD and what she’s going through, as she literally hurls herself off a movie truck (with a parachute). I suppose we’re supposed to hope, like her ex-boyfriend Ethan (Bernthal) that some time alone in a fire tower will help to curb her self-destructive tendencies and face her demons.
I won’t go into any more spoilers here, but I will say that this character arc and attempt at character development falls really flat, despite Angelina Jolie’s decent performance. Emotional side-stories sometimes work really well in action-thrillers, but in Those Who Wish Me Dead, the script leaves much to be desired.
Occasionally laughably predictable, Those Who Wish Me Dead did have a few moments that caught me completely off-guard, but sadly they were few and far between. This movie was full of potential, but unfortunately, it never finds it’s footing, too busy jumping around between the three storylines to ever really gain suspense. Usually at worst, action movies are entertaining and not much else, but Those Who Wish Me Dead barely manages that. Who knew that an action movie about wildfires could be boring?
Like what we do here at AIPT? Consider supporting us and independent comics journalism by becoming a patron today! In addition to our sincere thanks, you can browse AIPT ad-free, gain access to our vibrant Discord community of patrons and staff members, get trade paperbacks sent to your house every month, and a lot more. Click the button below to get started!