Photo Variety
Photo Variety

Reunited, and it feels so painful, as Jason Statham, co-writer/director Guy Ritchie and an old-fashioned revenge plot add up to "Wrath of Man," a serviceable, ultraviolent thriller if you can weather the exceptionally bad tough guy dialogue.

Guy Ritchie’s Biography

Guy Ritchie was born in Hatfield, Hertfordshire, UK on September 10, 1968. After watching Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) as a child, Guy realized that what he wanted to do was make films. He never attended film school, saying that the work of film school graduates was boring and unwatchable. At 15 years old, he dropped out of school and in 1995, got a job as a runner, ultimately starting his film career. He quickly progressed and was directing music promos for bands and commercials by 1995, Hello Magazine reported.

The profits that he made from directing these promos was invested into writing and making the film The Hard Case (1995), a 20-minute short film that is also the prequel to his debut feature Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998). Sting's wife, Trudie Styler, saw The Hard Case (1995) and invested in the feature film. Once completed, 10 British distributors turned the film down before it eventually was released in the UK in 1998 and in the US in 1999; the film put Ritchie on the map as one of the hottest rising filmmakers of the time, and launched the careers of actors Jason Statham, Jason Flemyng, and Vinnie Jones, among others.

Guy Ritchie’s Career

Guy Stuart Ritchie did not get off to the best start in life, academically at least.

He attended 10 schools including Stanbridge Earls School, a specialist institution for dyslexics.

Eventually expelled for dabbling in drugs, he completed his formal education armed with little more than a GCSE in film studies.

After tending bar, laying bricks and digging sewer lines, Guy set his sights on the film industry. Having started as a runner in 1993, he was soon directing music videos and commercials.

"I think I wanted to be a filmmaker when I was at school because I couldn't do anything else," he later reminisced. "There was a course at my school, which didn't seem to be going on anywhere else, in film studies.

"I picked up on it and before I knew it I was interested in it."

Director Guy Ritchie burst on the scene in 1998 with the bombastic "Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels," he fit in snugly with the winking, devil-may-care, hyper-violent scene stoked in this country by Quentin Tarantino. Boasting a similar swagger, Ritchie's early films (including "Snatch," released two years later), captured a sort of controlled chaos of cut-up timelines, heavy genre call-outs and memorably anarchic character interplay.

Since his early films like “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels,” Ritchie has always loved male-male bonding and off-color banter. But his best movies treat the testosterone action movie clichés that go along with those two things with a gleefully flamboyant insouciance. He shuffles chronologies and scrambles together narration and action sequences; he uses split screens just for the hell of it in “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” and even dumped a giant psychedelic snake into the Arthurian legend in “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.”

His irreverence can irritate some viewers — his "King Arthur" movie, for instance, bombed. But at least in a Guy Ritchie movie, you’re never bored.

Does Guy Ritchie even know where his strengths and weaknesses lie as a director?

When his films work, they tend to be driven by energy, atmosphere, and visual wit, which can sometimes paper over such notable shortcomings as narrative incoherence and idiotic dialogue. Yet Ritchie loves to double down on that narrative and dialogue. He can’t seem to tell a story, yet he keeps trying to tell more and more complicated ones. He can’t seem to create compelling characters or give them meaningful exchanges, yet his tales get more crowded and verbose. Last year gave us the dense, chatty, inert The Gentlemen, which brought Ritchie back to the intricate, multi-character crime dramas on which he initially made his name. Now we get the even more ambitious Wrath of Man, filled with shoot-outs and heists upon heists and reams of obnoxious banter that will make you wonder if sound cinema might have been humanity’s greatest mistake.

**READ MORE: Tenet on HBO Max: Launch Date, Reaction from Director Nolan

Wrath of Man

Cast: Jason Statham, Jeffrey Donovan, Josh Hartnett, Alex Ferns, Austin Post, Holt McCallany, Laz Alonso, Lyne Renee, Niamh Algar, Scott Eastwood, Andy Garcia, Eddie Marsan, Jason Wong, Post Malone

Who is  Guy Ritchie, Director of “Wrath of Man

Director: Guy Ritchie

Rating: R, for strong violence throughout, pervasive language, and some sexual references

Running time: 1 hour, 58 minutes

Playing theatrically

It’s a remake of the 2004 French film Cash Truck, telling a simple story in an often overly convoluted way, as if Tarantino was tasked with structuring a Liam Neeson thriller. A mysterious new employee, known as H (Statham) starts working for an armed vehicle company, transporting money and goods from one place to the other, a job that he’s quickly told makes him less predator and more prey. But after H disrupts an attempted robbery, killing all those who dared in the process, it becomes clear that he’s not just some hired hand. H has a mission, an avenging angel whose son was murdered by a gunman whose name he’s still searching for, a bloody, single-minded quest that’s about to bring hell to the streets of Los Angeles.

4 signs you're watching a Guy Ritchie movie

Guys are ridiculously strong

Ritchie has not yet directed a superhero movie, but many of his characters exhibit physical strength almost on the level of superpowers. The first meeting between Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) and Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer) in The Man From U.N.C.L.E. features Illya chasing Napoleon’s car on foot and nearly catching up. But though he doesn’t catch the car, Illya does manage to rip its trunk off, horrifying Napoleon to such an extent that he initially refers to the KGB operative as “it” in his report to CIA superiors. In Snatch, Mickey earns his nickname “One-Punch” by consistently knocking out massively built opponents with a single blow, something you wouldn’t guess from his lean physique. Charlie Hunnam’s Arthur seems like a normal human…until he’s got Excalibur in his hand. The sword is bound to his bloodline so only Arthur can wield it, and when he does, he can send dozens of men flying through the air with a single slash.

Plans within plans

Everyone is scheming in a Ritchie movie. Whether they’re spies, criminals, or pickpockets, all his characters are always trying to come out on top of chaotic situations with lots of moving pieces. The Gentlemen has many players: Dry Eye (Henry Golding) is trying to seize Mickey Pearson’s (Matthew McConaughey) marijuana business out from under him at the same time that Mickey is trying to sell it to Matthew Berger (Jeremy Strong) while also avoiding the blackmail schemes of tabloid journalist Fletcher (Hugh Grant). Suffice to say, all the pieces get scrambled multiple times and no one ends up quite where they expected to.

Shirtless fist-fighting

Photo Warner Bros
Photo Warner Bros

Characters in Ritchie films spar with words as often as they fight with fists, but when it is time for bare-knuckle brawling, they don’t hold back — and rarely keep their shirts on. This makes sense in the context of Snatch, which focuses on the world of underground boxing. When Brad Pitt’s Irish Traveller boxer Mickey O’Neill takes his shirt off, that’s when you know he’s not holding back anymore. But even Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes likes to take his shirt off for boxing matches to clear his head. Charlie Hunnam’s titular protagonist of King Authur: Legend of the Sword might not have held a sword before pulling Excalibur from its stone, but he did learn to fight by (you guessed it) shirtless fist-fighting with his fellow lost boys on the streets of Londinium.

One woman allowed

It must be said: Ritchie’s films are heavy on testosterone. Released one year after Fight Club, Snatch also boasted a shirtless Brad Pitt but lacked a female presence on the level of Helena Bonham Carter’s Marla Singer. The Gentlemen has Michelle Dockery’s Rosalind Pearson, but she is the only major female character in the main cast. It was the same for Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey in King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, though her character didn’t even get a name; she was referred to solely as “The Mage.”

Guy Ritchie has made a foray into the beer industry after launching his very own brewery. The film director has transformed an old converted barn on his farm on the Dorset/ Wiltshire border into the Gritchie Brewing Company, and his first beer is already available to buy.

The new beer, the English Lore four per cent pale ale, is now being sold in pubs close to his expansive country estate. Guy has showcased his team's work on the brewery's official website and social media pages, explaining that the 20 barrel brewery produces beer using the "old traditional method", and Maris Otter barley grown on his farm.

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