Jason Statham is Jason Statham with a Jason Statham accent in this Jason Statham thriller. Oh, and Wild Card also stars Jason Statham and is the dictionary definition of “generic”.
Set in the run up to Christmas on the Las Vegas strip, Nick (guess who?), is a fixer of sorts helping people with the sort of jobs that no one else wants. With a violent streak he tries hard to suppress, Nick tells anyone who will listen that he is desperate to get out for a better life in more exotic climes.
When his friend turns up battered and bloody, Nick wants to help her out. He heads off looking for the men who attacked her, and we see exactly what the former-soldier can do. Knowing that he is now a wanted man, having messed with a known mobster, Nick keeps a low-profile taking on high-paying job looking after a nerdy kid looking to toughen up. With some cash in his pocket, Nick feels Lady Luck leaning on his shoulders and goes on an incredible winning streak. He hits his target to get out, but in typical Nick fashion he chances his arm one more time.
With vengeful mobsters, dodgy hotel owners and luck seemingly turning against him as well, Nick has few options and even fewer friends left.
Those familiar with the work of Mr Statham are in for few surprises. Those who have ever seen any film in their lives are also in for nothing new. This is cookie-cutter stuff based on an obviously dated novel by William Goldman. The characters are all as you expect, including the late cameo from Stanley Tucci that raises some chuckles for sheer bravado.
This is one of those violent thrillers that thinks it is being more clever than it actually is by pacing the action in delayed bursts. The problem is that the “filler” is so utterly predictable.
The only sequence of note, and one that hints at the real potential of the leading man, is the intense gambling scene that sees Nick go on his hot streak at the Blackjack table. When winning and losing we get to see something that belongs in a better movie. The momentum here is quickly squandered, much like Nicks earnings, but it is a memorable moment in the career of Jason Statham.
The actor is lauded, mostly in the same ironic manner that Nicolas Cage is. People will post his memes across the internet and try to generate faux-enthusiasm for his movies, but even this is all so predictable.
Director Simon West has previously made classic action films like Con Air, but he’s also turned in dross like The General’s Daughter. We’ve seen him work with Statham before in The Mechanic and The Expendables 2, and this effort is probably the best of his recent output.
The source material has nothing to say about the modern world, and the film is equally irrelevant. This would have probably worked better in a retro-fitted era, who wouldn’t have been excited about seeing Statham in a 70’s afro and platform heels?