(Written for Filmoria)
Based on the critically acclaimed 1985 novel, Heat, written by two-time Academy Award-winning writer William Goldman, who also wrote the screenplay for the film, Wild Card is a remake of the 1986 adaptation that starred Burt Reynolds.
Directed by Simon West (The Expendables 2), the film follows Nick Wild (Jason Statham), a bodyguard with lethal skills and a gambling problem, who gets in trouble with the mob whilst on a job in Las Vegas.
It’s obvious from the start that Statham’s character has an interesting story to explore. Why is he such a mess? And what’s going to happen to make him likeable? Or at least engaging enough to want to see more of.
Surprisingly, Wild Card is actually a very character driven film, which works as both a strength and a weakness. It’s not often that thrillers such as this one have lead characters with any depth at all, but Nick Wild is different. Being based on a novel means that Wild has had a writer put time into really figuring out who this guy is, focusing on every detail and allowing him time to develop.
And it works, because you take notice of the lead for once instead of just the action. But the story is more focused on Nick Wild himself than anything else, which is why it also becomes a weakness.
The fight scenes and stunts are excellent and are really well choreographed, which make another strong quality of the film, but it almost feels like you’re waiting around for Statham to get into a brawl to keep you from switching off.
We know what to expect from Statham’s roles these days, but he doesn’t fail to impress at the same time. He’s such a likeable actor to say that he’s so stereotyped, but whilst the effort has been put into creating a great character, the premise around him feels quite empty. Wild Card does bring an intriguingly darker side out of Statham, but the lack of suspense ends up taking the better of him.
One thing’s for sure, there needed to be a lot more Stanley Tucci. We don’t see nearly enough of him, and more interactions between him and Statham would have made this film a whole lot more entertaining. Some decent support comes from Michael Angarano, too, but, again, there’s not enough time put into those around Wild to make them stand out enough.
Sofía Vergara also makes a disappointingly short appearance, but she looks absolutely stunning and helps to set the film up perfectly. She certainly grabs your interest from the get-go, introducing us to a Statham that were not used to. As he stumbles around a bar drunk for the opening scenes of the film, you wonder where the film is going, peaking your interest quite early on.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t get much better from then on. Wild Card obviously had great intentions to be more than just a film about fighting and gambling, and there’s a great noirish feel to it that I think will be admired in years to come, but in between a skillfully created lead and brilliant stunts, Wild Card doesn’t have enough story or exhilaration to keep up the pace.
– An in-depth look at Wild Card’s cast of characters.
– Extra footage that takes a forensic look at the science behind the film’s mind-bending action, including how Corey Yuen, expert martial arts choreographer, injected emotion and artistry into the film’s hand -to-hand stunts, striking the correct blend between action and drama.
– Another in-depth look at the script.
Wild Card is available to buy on DVD and Blu-ray from 27th July, with a Digital Download and VOD release available now.