A thief with a unique code of professional ethics is double-crossed by his crew and left for dead. Assuming a new disguise and forming an unlikely alliance with a woman on the inside, he looks to hijack the score of the crew's latest heist.
Homeless and on the run from a military court martial, a damaged ex-special forces soldier navigating London's criminal underworld seizes an opportunity to assume another man's identity -- transforming into an avenging angel in the process.
Mei, a young girl whose memory holds a priceless numerical code, finds herself pursued by the Triads, the Russian mob, and corrupt NYC cops. Coming to her aid is an ex-cage fighter whose life was destroyed by the gangsters on Mei's trail.
When his mentor is taken captive by a disgraced Arab sheik, a killer-for-hire is forced into action. His mission: kill three members of Britain's elite Special Air Service responsible for the death of his sons.
Frank Martin puts the driving gloves on to deliver Valentina, the kidnapped daughter of a Ukranian government official, from Marseilles to Odessa on the Black Sea. En route, he has to contend with thugs who want to intercept Valentina's safe delivery and not let his personal feelings get in the way of his dangerous objective.
Nick Wild (Jason Statham) is a Las Vegas bodyguard with lethal professional skills and a personal gambling problem. When a friend is beaten by a sadistic thug, Nick strikes back, only to find out the thug is the son of a powerful mob boss. Suddenly Nick is plunged into the criminal underworld, chased by enforcers and wanted by the mob. Having raised the stakes, Nick has one last play to change his fortunes...and this time, it's all or nothing. Written by
Director Simon West said that Jason Statham developed the project himself "maybe over five years". See more »
When Nick goes to speak with Danny DeMarco in his suite at the Golden Nugget, you can see the Las Vegas Strip (the Eiffel Tower stands out...) outside the window. The Golden Nugget is on Fremont Street downtown, NOT on The Strip. See more »
Competent action thriller that wants to be a drama
Wild Card has been a passion project of Jason Statham's for several years, the actor having even secured Brian De Palma for the director's chair at one point. With De Palma stepping away, Statham enlisted the competent but much less exciting Simon West with whom he'd already collaborated on The Mechanic and The Expendables 2.
West was excited to work with legendary screenwriter William Goldman again after The General's Daughter and assembled an impressive supporting cast around Statham, the likes of Stanley Tucci, Anne Heche, Jason Alexander and many more. A vastly underrated actor, Statham easily holds his own among these and gives a fine performance as Nick Wild, first played in the 1986 original by Burt Reynolds.
That picture was a notoriously troubled production that left a sour taste in William Goldman's mouth, but he obviously thought highly of his screenplay, as story-wise, Wild Card plays almost exactly like the original, beat-by-beat. However, watching the on-screen proceedings it is hard to believe this is the same man responsible for such classics as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, All the President's Men, The Princess Bride and so many others.
From its top notch cast to its look and pacing, Wild Card feels like it wants to a gritty drama, a moody character piece with bursts of action in the vein of Michael Mann's Collateral, a film with which it shares quite a few characteristics. Unfortunately it never quite reaches the heights of its ambitions, the film being unable to conjure up something special, unexpected, original enough to put it over the top.
That is not to say it doesn't deliver. Without saying much, the film draws you into this world easily and convincingly. The acting is very strong and the characters pretty appealing. The writing is sharp. Cinematographer Shelly Johnson gives the film a distinctive look and the editing is excellent. The score is composed by the ultra-talented Dario Marianelli. And then there's the action.
While there are only but a few of them, the action scenes, handled by Hong Kong legend and frequent Statham collaborator Cor(e)y Yuen, are incredible, exhilarating and eminently memorable. Even more to the film's credit, each one is very different, both through their visual and musical presentations.
All this makes for a perfectly serviceable film but one unfortunately stuck between two worlds. Which makes it quite a shame that Brian De Palma backed out of the project as his style would have no doubt elevated Wild Card to something pretty fascinating.
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