Film adaptions of books have always been a thing, and some work really well; others do not. Taylor Sheridan’s latest attempt, Those Who Wish Me Dead, has all the star power but falls too far in the story department. The film is an adaption of the Michael Koryta book of the same title. The film itself is very entertaining on a high level while highlighting just how dangerous forest fires are, and how dangerous the job is for the firefighters themselves. Other than that, it’s a story that falls flat as it goes on.
Two assassins Jack (Aiden Gillen) and Patrick (Nicholas Hoult) are tasked with essentially killing a legal team and the experts around them. They eventually get to the Forensic Expert Owen (Jake Weber), and his son Connor (Finn Little). The men kill Owen, and Connor gets away. They must hunt down Connor, and kill him as he’s also a witness now. Connor runs into Hannah (Angelina Jolie) a survival expert in the Montana Forest. Also, there is Connor’s uncle Ethan (Jon Bernthal) and his wife Allison (Medina Senghore) are looking for Connor too. They eventually all have to survive a forest fire or face its wrath.
The story has a few compelling ideas, but it has too many things happening at once. Sheridan, Koryta, and Charles Leavitt put together the screenplay and it’s an ambitious one that just falls extremely flat. It starts off very strong and then just plummets as it continues. The film comes from two different aspects, and how they’ve gelled together isn’t done well. The film fails to make you care about what’s going on because it lacks detail. The story needs more depth, maybe an extra thirty minutes at the most and it’s complete.
The cast carried this film entirely, with extremely good performances all around, especially from Jolie, Little, Gillen, and Hoult. Editor Chad Galster did what he could to piece together a film that made sense but it was definitely a tough job. Cinematographer Ben Richardson captures some very amazing shots of the Montana forest and the forest fire that is all-consuming. The action sequences are fairly solid as well. There were definitely good aspects of the film.
It’s not a horrible movie, but I really didn’t enjoy it. There were highlights like the ones above, but when the story doesn’t mesh well it all just falls apart. Stories build movies, and they create the atmosphere. While the setup was nice, the payoff wasn’t worth it in the end. Again, the story needed more depth. This is honestly a seemingly repetitive thing for Warner Bros films in 2021. As a fan of action sequences, and movie violence, I still would love a good story. Especially in a film such as this. – Rascal F. Kennedy
Those Who Wish Me Dead is currently streaming on HBO Max and in movie theaters nationwide.