Jason Statham was a surprise comic highlight of 2015 thanks to his self-immolating role in Paul Feig’s Spy, when he successfully sent-up his own tough-guy persona. The Stath remains a watchable guilty pleasure when he’s beating people up, too, as evidenced by the three short-but-sparky fight scenes in Simon West’s Wild Card. He won’t win any acting awards for his slightly ropey performance in-between the scrapping, of course, but then who watches a Jason Statham film for the quality of the acting? Here he’s an Englishman in Las Vegas with a gambling addiction and a shadowy past: Special Forces, SAS or something else, I didn’t quite catch it and it doesn’t matter anyway. Anyway, the character has ground out a living as a security man for hire, accompanying rich people around the city’s casinos, and in doing so he makes enough to rent an office that he shares with a Better Call Saul-style attorney. Through his work he seems to know half of the city’s female employees, from waitresses to call girls and croupiers to hotel cleaners. When one of these women is assaulted by a stereotypical Italian gangster, Statham’s character Nick Wild nobly sets about righting the wrong, and becomes embroiled in a running battle with the mid-level mobster and his lumpy henchmen. That’s about it, really, but there are some extra bits and bobs worth noting. Wild’s motivation throughout appears to be the promise of a future life in his ‘happy place’, which involves sailing a boat around Corsica, an image that usually pops into his head five seconds before he smashes an ashtray into someone’s face. Secondly there’s a rather impressive list of supporting actors here, including Anne Heche, Hope Davis and Stanley Tucci, though no-one makes a lasting impression as their characters are routinely forgotten about five minutes after they first appear. Lastly Wild Card is from the pen of the great William Goldman, and based on his own novel Heat, previously a Burt Reynolds vehicle; with a stellar career behind him that includes Oscar wins for his writing on Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid and All The President’s Men it’s safe to say this latest script isn’t a high point. As for the star, well, it’s another Jason Statham character in another Jason Statham vehicle. With only three short fights this is light on high-octane thrills, and as such perhaps signals that he is trying to leave the busier, louder action franchises and standalones behind, though it’s worth noting that this attempt to branch out a little was a box-office bomb.
Directed by: Simon West.
Written by: William Goldman. Based on Heat by William Goldman.
Starring: Jason Statham, Michael Angarano, Milo Ventimiglia, Dominik Garcia-Loredo, Anne Heche, Stanley Tucci, Hope Davis, Sofia Vergara, Max Casella, Jason Alexander.
Cinematography: Shelly Johnson.
Editing: Padraic McKinley.
Music: Dario Marianelli.
Running Time: 92 minutes.