“I can take care of things. That is all you need to know.”
Don’t be fooled by the awesome poster that has Jason Statham pulling off an acrobatic stunt because Wild Card is more of a character driven drama than an action film. The only problem is that it never does manage to say anything about the character despite trying to be an inventive character driven film. Jason Statham is supposed to be this compulsive gambler living in Las Vegas working as a fixer thanks to his special skills, but we would’t actually know these things about the character until about forty minutes into the film so everything leading up to that seems like a waste of time. Wild Card has some interesting ideas and the action scenes are extremely fun, but there are only three action scenes in the entire movie. Getting to watch Statham beat up a gang of mobsters with a spoon and a butter knife is the highlight of the film, but the rest of the movie feels disjointed and disconnected. There are a number of secondary characters that have interesting appearances but most of the subplots end up going nowhere. It is surprising that the screenplay failed to work here because William Goldman is an Award winning writer (All the President’s Men and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid) and the film is based on his novel “Heat.” But somehow Wild Card feels like it is missing a link and every sideplot that is introduced doesn’t fit in the film as a whole.
Simon West has directed several mediocre action films, but I will always have respect for his most entertaining film, Con Air. This is his third collaboration with Jason Statham and I think The Mechanic was their best one. He is trying to do something different with Wild Card by focusing on the character rather than the action, but the drama doesn’t make much sense. Statham is still able to keep us interested thanks to his charisma and the few action scenes are well choreographed and stylized. It was almost enough for me to recommend it, but ultimately the waste of a talented secondary cast and the disjointed subplots left me wanting more.
I already mentioned Statham’s charismatic performance, but I want to point out some issues I had with other performers. Max Casella and Sofia Vergara have a small scene at the beginning of the movie that is far from memorable. They are talented actors but the way West introduces these characters and never connects them with the story sort of falls flat. Then you have the talented Anne Heche working as a waitress at a bar that Statham frequently visits, Jason Alexander who is a lawyer that shares his office with Statham, and Michael Angarano who wants Statham to be his personal bodyguard for the night while he is out in Vegas. As much as I like these actors their roles are wasted. Dominik Garcia-Lorido has an interesting role as Statham’s friend who is beaten by a mobster (played by Milo Ventimiglia) just for funs sake. She wants revenge and she knows Statham can help her. This is the part of the plot that worked best for me, but Ventimiglia never ends up being much of a threat. There is an incredible cameo however with Stanley Tucci that worked so well that I wished the film would’ve focused on his relationship with Statham instead. There are some interesting moments in Wild Card but West was never able to piece them together into a cohesive and entertaining film. By the end no matter how much fun I had with the action scenes I couldn’t help but feel as if I’d seen an incomplete film.