Wild Card

Jason Statham in Wild Card. (SK Pictures)
Jason Statham in Wild Card. (SK Pictures)

What it's about:

Nick Wild 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.

What we thought:

Jason Statham movies are almost a genre on its own. You just have to say his name when describing a film and everyone will know exactly what to expect. Either he has to help pull off a heist, is a mobster or has to be someone’s bodyguard. You can’t really discredit him as an actor as most people love his roguish charm and he found a niche that he has exploited as much as he can. In-between he’s had some stellar movies (Snatch being my favourite and his surprising performance in Spy), but it’s sad to watch one of his films that should have been one of his good ones, and ends up being one of his normal ones.

A typical Las Vegas gambling film, a bodyguard’s dream is to hit it big enough to disappear into the Mediterranean, but when an ex-girlfriend wants revenge on a gangster who assaulted and raped her, his plans to realise his dream becomes a necessity. Money and bloodied corpses ensue.

The potential of this film was helmed by the fact that the screenplay was written by two-time Oscar winner William Goldman (All the President’s Men, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid), a veteran writer that has churned out great screenplays over the decades. Although he’s been out of the game since 2003 (Dreamcatcher), one expected something with more depth in a film about a man down on his luck. Although Statham probably spoke more in Wild Card than any of his others, his dominance on the screen left very little development for other characters, including the naïve young man (Michael Angarano) that wants Statham’s character to teach him to stop being afraid of life. He could have had a much more fleshed out role, but was completely overshadowed by the plot’s obsessive focus on the lead.

Another pitfall was the casting choice of the ex-girlfriend who gets the ball rolling on the chaos. Dominik Garcia-Lorido, daughter of Andy Garcia, was more concerned about her looks than getting revenge on a man that violated her. The whole premise of why Wild would go to such lengths, risking his own life to help her lost all gravitas as soon as they both appeared on screen. The lack of chemistry was so blatant and their supposed past relationship was so unconvincing that everything else the lead did seemed pretty trivial. They could have gone with any of the other woman side characters that Statham interacts with, especially his waitress friend at his favourite diner, rather than Garcia-Lorido. He had more chemistry with them in only a few seconds of screen time than all the screen time he shared with her.

The action scenes however were fantastic, which is not surprising when director Simon West is at the helm, who’s action film credits are envious (Con Air, Expendables, The Mechanic, Tomb Raider). These scenes made the film into your typical Statham movie, and left the screenplay somewhere in silly land. Great for the action fans, disappointing for the Goldman fans.