Released: 13th May
Seen: 1st November
There were a lot of films I missed this year thanks to the several months of lockdown we had. If a film had a cinematic release between June and October then chances are good that I couldn’t see it because my home state wasn’t completely stupid and shut down a bunch of places to try and stop Covid from getting out of hand (which… OK didn’t work, but there was an effort made). So now that a lot of those films are slowly turning up on streaming services the time has come for me to get to work on catching up and I have to admit I was kind of interested by Those Who Wish Me Dead when I saw the trailer for it, and it basically delivered on what I expected.
Those Who Wish Me Dead follows Hannah (Angelina Jolie), a smoke jumper/firefighter with a bit of trauma in her past who is working in a watch tower in the middle of a Montana forest. She spends her day basically just keeping an eye out for any fires nearby so she can radio for help and be heroic… well, today her heroic duty includes protecting a young boy named Connor (Finn Little). See, Connor is a witness to a murder committed by a pair of assassins, Patrick (Nicholas Hoult) and Jack (Aidan Gillen) who need to tie up all their loose ends and so to do that they need to find Connor, kill him and Hannah and to cover their tracks they set a forest fire. Hannah has her work cut out for her today.
Those Who Wish Me Dead is one of the most straightforward films you’ll find. It holds no surprises or shock twists, it’s a competent thriller with good acting and decent visuals. It doesn’t really do anything to stand out, beyond having a cast that includes an Oscar Winner and a bunch of A-list talent, it just exists as a good quality film that does the exact thing it promises it’s going to do. You look at the poster and go “Oh, I’m about to see Angelina Jolie run through fires in a forest while some people shoot guns” and that’s basically what you get. If nothing else, Those Who Wish Me Dead keeps its promises.
Beyond just keeping to what it sets out to be, Those Who Wish Me Dead has a decent enough pace that you never really feel like they’re wasting time. Everyone acts relatively intelligently, no one has a sudden onset of idiocy for no reason. It’s smart people in a tough situation and doing whatever feels like it’s the best idea in those situations. At a little over an hour and a half, there’s no real time for padding or bullshit. It’s not trying to be some grand epic, it’s just trying to be an enjoyable little thriller that keeps your attention for 90 minutes.
All the performances are just fine, no one’s really pulling out anything spectacular here because there’s no reason to, just make the characters that we need to like into likable people and make us hate the bad guys… everyone pulls off their respective jobs and does so very well. No one really stands out in either a good way or a bad way, they all just do a decent job that is easy to enjoy without having to think that hard.
Those Who Wish Me Dead is basically what you think of when you think of a good film, it’s not great and it probably won’t be anyone’s favourite film of the year or even the last few months but it’s good enough that if it’s available and you wanna watch something that’s a fairly sure bet, this is the thing to put on. It’s not one to rush out and get hold of right now, you won’t lose anything by missing it. It’s the safest bet you could make when choosing a movie. Some films are just there to be good and that’s often enough to get the job done.