I Am Wrath (2016)

iamwrath_2016_poster
  • Time: 92 min
  • Genre: Action | Crime | Drama
  • Director: Chuck Russell
  • Cast: John Travolta, Amanda Schull, Christopher Meloni, Rebecca De Mornay

Storyline:

A man is out for justice after a group of corrupt police officers are unable to catch his wife’s killer.

2 reviews

  • John Travolta and Christopher Meloni know that they’re appearing in a campy shoot-’em-up. They also know that their kooky interplay is what the script requires in said shoot-’em-up. Finally, they realize that they’ve fallen far from the days of Pulp Fiction and Law & Order: SVU. Do they care? Probably not. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have agreed to star in I Am Wrath (my latest review).

    “Wrath” is helmed by Chuck Russell. He’s a guy that I guess, grew up within a stone’s throw of where I live (Edison Park, Chicago). Having not made a film since 2002, it’s odd that the director of such box office hits as The Mask and Eraser would wait over a decade to put such a predictable revenge thriller on his resume. Bodies pile up, acting is middle-of-the-road, Travolta’s hair (or his highlighted toupee) becomes a supporting bit part, and obligatory, techy news footage inhabits the opening credits. Would I call Russell’s “Wrath” a John Wick clone with less kills? That’s a fair assessment. Would I recommend it considering that I’ve seen much worse direct-to-video releases (Exposed comes to mind)? Not quite. With a farcical ending, Rebecca De Mornay accumulating just a few minutes of screen time, and laughable decisions made by the makeup department (some scenes are bloodless while other shots have to show the required red dye on the trouper’s faces), I Am Wrath is the definition of average. “I am” not that impressed by it.

    Taking place in Ohio and filmed in Ohio (Columbus to be exact), “Wrath’s” title refers to a biblical passage drawn from the book of Jeremiah. When the flick concludes with the antagonist asking the protagonist, “who are you?”, the response is emphatically, “I am wrath”. Talk about a cheesy cinematic moment. So OK, here’s the story: Stanley Hill (John Travolta) is an engineer who is in between jobs. As “Wrath” opens, we find out that he might be employed again with great opportunities. Now Stanley wasn’t always this stodgy workman. He used to be a badass black ops guy, capable of killing at will (with his bare hands mind you). When his wife is murdered in front of him (in the confines of a dark parking garage), Stanley comes out of retirement, rift with guns blazing. He wants to avenge the death of the woman he loved. And against his initial judgment, he gets help from his former co-worker, a gun-toting compadre named Dennis (played by Chris Meloni).

    As mentioned earlier, you know how I Am Wrath is going to play out almost before the actors/actresses do. When Hill’s wife Vivian gets stabbed, it’s so apparent that it wasn’t just a random hit. This act of belligerence came from the top-down (could it have been the fact that the governor of the Buckeye State was responsible, hint hint). Obviousness aside, Travolta’s solution in “Wrath” is a violent one and it is presented in foolhardy fashion. Once an A-list actor in the 1970’s and 1990’s, John Travolta’s performance here is a B-list, vigilante take on Charles Bronson, Denzel Washington, and/or Clint Eastwood (pick one). You kinda ache for remnants of his better, more humored version of action lore in From Paris with Love (“Kitchen staff? They’re no kitchen staff!”).

    In conclusion, if it’s raining outside, you’ve read every book in your house, you’ve played solitaire for hours, or you’ve already binge- watched reruns of Flashpoint, I guess viewing I Am Wrath would be a useful time killer. Here’s the thing though: Wait about a month to rent it. At the moment it’s not worth ponying up $9.99 via On Demand. Rating: 2 stars

    Rating: 2 out of 4 stars

    Check out other reviews on my blog: http://www.viewsonfilm.com

  • “What could be worse than the man who killed my wife walks out of here like it’s a joke!”

    Liam Neeson excelled in the “Taken” trilogy. Denzel Washington did it in “The Equalizer”. Keanu Reeves in “John Wick”. And now John Travolta can prove himself in “I am wrath”. Those four guys have the following characteristics in common. They’ve passed their 50th birthday (Neeson, Travolta and Washington even their 60th), have a respectable career behind them and for their age they still look virile enough. The four took their chance to show that they are still able to bring a physically demanding role to a successful conclusion. And isn’t such a revenge movie, full of cool action scenes and opportunities to finish off some irritating rascals, most suitable for this? I even start to believe that this is a midlife bucket-list item of older Hollywood stars. Just don’t start to exaggerate like Bruce Willis! But that’s beside the point.

    So, Travolta as the self-made avenging angel Stanley, who swings into action, along with his former colleague Dennis (Christopher Meloni), when his wife Vivian (Rebecca De Mornay) gets killed. The perpetrator of this fact, which happened in an underground garage, is being arrested and Stanley recognizes him during a line up. To his surprise however, the thug is released real quickly. Time to take the law into his own hands. Stanley breaks through a thin wall in his closet and reveals a well-hidden bag, full of toys for adults. Doesn’t this sound familiar? Yep. Keanu Reeves also broke up his basement floor and dug up his well concealed shooting equipment.

    And actually, that’s what ruined this action-packed revenge movie a bit. It certainly isn’t so bad. But it isn’t really exceptionally good either. It has been shown countless times in other movies. Even the way of firing a handgun, resembles that of John Wick. The only one who brought a bit of entertainment was Dennis, who works as a hairdresser. A beautiful barber shop as a cover up, with an arsenal of weapons in the basement which can be tested on the (probably soundproof) shooting range. Clearly his past has given him steely shinbones. He needed that when he was beating up a group of petty criminals. Apparently those two friends were part of a special unit. So you don’t want them as an enemy. Yet I found it strange that Stanley, despite his professional past, could be overpowered so easily by such an ordinary punk.

    But it would be unfair to say that this “straight to video” is completely rubbish and utter crap. Indeed, we’ve seen it all before and it’s similar to other revenge films. And yes, without a doubt you can make a list of much better films. But besides “Criminal Activities”, all the recent films Travolta played in are from the same level. No highlights, but plain average. And so is “I am wrath”. It offers what you expect. An action-packed film, filled with punch-ups and shooting. Stanley and Dennis were quite humorous as a duo sometimes. Certainly when Meloni appeared on screen, the scenes became more interesting. This is due to Travolta or Meloni? I don’t have a clue, but compared to what Meloni did in “Small Time”, it was a pleasant surprise. I hope Travolta will surprise me next year in “The life and death of John Gotti”.

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