Jason Statham is one of those actors I could watch all day. Aside from being a bad-ass, he’s also a versatile actor who can portray a wide variety of emotion, regardless of the role he’s playing. Granted, he’s best known for his action (THE TRANSPORTER is one of my favorite films of all time), and that’s one of the major reasons I like the guy. But it’s also nice when he has the chance to throw in a bit of drama here and there. Such is the case with WILD CARD, a Lionsgate release due out tomorrow. Statham gets to flex his acting muscles just as much as his skull-crushing ones, and the result is a pretty entertaining jaunt that showcases the underbelly of Sin City.
If you are not familiar with WILD CARD, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Lionsgate:
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.
I will admit up front that this movie is far from perfect. It does have some flaws that weigh it down. But the film is definitely entertaining nonetheless, and fans of Statham’s work should have no problem enjoying it.
WILD CARD is shot pretty well and looks good overall from a production standpoint. Interestingly, the cinematography doesn’t capture a whole lot of the glamour Las Vegas has to offer. We get to see some, but I was actually expecting more.
The acting in WILD CARD is good, with Statham portraying a no-nonsense bodyguard who knows all too well what Vegas is all about. Alongside him are Michael Angarano, whose work I have enjoyed since RED STATE, back in 2011, and several others. I also have to point out Stanley Tucci, who is always a joy to see onscreen, and a host of other screen vets, including Jason Alexander, Sofia Vergara, and Anne Heche.
The storyline is where the flaws come in. For the most part, this is a revenge flick, with Statham seeking justice from a mob boss’s son at the behest of a friend who was raped by the guy. The ‘friend’ is a woman from his past, but we are never told what their relationship was. Instead, we get cryptic hints that are never fleshed out. But that aside, the revenge aspect is only one piece of the story; we are also given a lengthly excursion into Statham’s gambling addiction. This threw me off a bit, as it tried to reset the tone of the film in a way. I understand the characters are damaged, but I felt like this was detracting from the main elements of the film.
Those are the primary slips worth mentioning. WILD CARD also contains a few subplots that don’t really go anywhere, but they are minor and do not take away from the film too much.
Thankfully, the action is intense and brutal. Statham doles out his trademark head-bashing with gusto, and this is what makes the movie for me. The fight scenes are exactly what you would expect from a Statham picture, and they do not disappoint. I only wish there were more of them.
Still, WILD CARD is fun and entertaining for the most part. It’s not Statham’s best movie, but it’s also not his worst (I think DUNGEON SIEGE might still hold that honor). Give this one a look if you’re in the mood for something different. Just be willing to overlook some of the story. WILD CARD hits store shelves tomorrow.