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Wild Card – Movie Review

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Wild Card – Movie Review

Rating: C+ (Above Average)

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Some actors fall into a pattern of familiarity with their work and with Jason Statham, he hasn’t proven to be a versatile actor. However, he seems to clearly know his limitations and feels confident to play the same role multiple times. Wild Card has the potential to be something more, utilising a screenplay by William Goldman, not the writer one would expect to attach his name to a Statham-headed project. However, even with that prestige, this delivers the same old material with some occasional stand-out moments thrown in. The whole production adds another layer of complexity when one looks at the film’s background.

Originally a book called Heat, William Goldman then adapted his own story into a feature film starring Burt Reynolds. Looking at selected scenes from the earlier film, they play out in Wild Card almost word-for-word, with only a couple of Statham-isms thrown in to differentiate it enough. Some well-written dialogue scenes appear, but the character development stays fairly one-dimensional and the script becomes rather predictable, especially if one has seen plenty of these pictures. Nick Wild’s penchant for gambling plays out exactly how these sorts of scenarios play out in movies and his relationship with a young cowardly billionaire also follows the expected beats. The central plot involving a raped colleague of Wild’s also ends surprisingly early, though its conclusion is certainly a painful one to watch.

Being a Jason Statham picture directed by Simon West, there are some action sequences and they do provide some notable moments. A couple of bothersome slow-motion bits are thrown in, but then there is one clever scene in which a casino brawl is set to “White Christmas.” Wild’s character trait of never firing a gun also gives the filmmakers a chance to be creative in the action sequences, which allows this to become more than just a simple shoot-em-up. One scene even shows that sometimes kitchen utensils can be just as deadly as guns when put into the right hands. With that said, when Wild Card enters into action mode, it does feel surprisingly in contrast with the rest of the movie.

Just as surprising as Goldman’s name in the credits are the amount of notable actors who appear in Wild Card, even in tiny roles. Stanley Tucci is given the funniest scene in the movie, while Jason Alexander makes the most he can with a role that seems like it will be pivotal and then we never see him again. Max Casella and Sofia Vergara also begin the movie on a decent note with their performances in the opening scene. Hope Davis appearing as a friendly casino employee reminds us how consistently good she is in every role and that she’s an actress who deserves more and better scripts. Less successful is Michael Angarano, who provides a stale and unnatural turn as the young billionaire, though it’s probably not helped by the underwritten character he is given.

With the pedigree involved in Wild Card, there’s an expectation of more than just your generic Las Vegas-set crime movie, but the whole film feels undercooked and seems to exist just to give Jason Statham another tough guy role to play. He seems like an actor who has the potential to do more than just his usual characters, but if he’s content playing these parts, that’s his choice. Even with William Goldman’s name, there’s nothing special about this screenplay and some noteworthy action scenes and solid actors aside, nothing about this rises above average and into memorable territory.

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Review By: Stefan Ellison

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