TWO ACTION movies are released this weekend, and while The Gunman with Sean Penn seems to have the bigger advertising budget, Wild Card, with the always watchable Jason Statham, was the one that caught my eye.
Wild Card is a remake 1980s hard action movie and is the type of crappy action flick we do not see anymore. While the original had some good points, it is not worthy of a modern day reimagining. Yet this new version is scripted by William Goldman, who is, in my view, the greatest living screenwriter. Brian DePalma had also been attached to direct.
With a quality supporting cast of Stanley Tucci, Sofia Vergara, and the great Jason Alexander, this could have had the makings of a real cult sleeper hit. Sadly DePalma did not direct and the project was giving to Simon West, but still I had hope. West has made some incredibly cheesy/wonderful action movies in the past like the truly sensational Con Air and The Mechanic, but also has brought out some real stinkers (Expendables 2 anyone? ). For all my praise of Goldman it has been a long time since The Princess Bride and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
Statham plays Nick Wild (great name ) who works in Vegas as a security consultant, hoping eventually to pack it all in and move to Corsica. He picks a fight with a well known mobster which results in a contract on his head. Nick goes all in, so to speak, with his money in the casino, and with his body, by taking on the mobsters head on.
The movie does not really work, not for lack of effort from the cast - I always find ‘The Stath’ a good watch - and there are some fun cameos, particularly Hope Davis as a sparky blackjack dealer, but the last 45 minutes descends into action scenes you have seen before. The set pieces are reasonably well choreographed, but this is the Simon West of The Expendables not of Con Air so do not expect anything new or fresh. Vegas is also starting to feel tired as a film destination.
One of the interesting parts of the Taken movies was their locations out of the US and it certainly added something fresh. I went into this hoping to see a clever little action movie but rather it is an uninspired, formulaic, cash grab by Statham and crew. I suppose it is the time of year for this kind of thing.