Film Review: <em> Those Who Wish Me Dead </em>
May 21 2021

Film Review: Those Who Wish Me Dead

By: Fritz Esker

Director Taylor Sheridan, who'd previously written 2016's excellent Hell or High Water, made a splash as writer and director with 2017's equally terrific Wind River. Sheridan's latest film, Those Who Wish Me Dead, isn't on the same level as Hell or High Water or Wind River, but it's still an entertaining night at the movies.

Angelina Jolie plays a wilderness firefighter in Montana haunted by her failure to save lives in a previous forest fire. A young boy (Finn Little) is on the run after his father stumbled upon a criminal conspiracy involving very powerful people. The exact nature of the conspiracy is never revealed; it's clearly a Hitchcock-style MacGuffin.

The boy and the firefighter cross paths as the boy is being chased by a pair of hired killers (Nicholas Hoult and Aiden Gillen). The hitmen are effective villains because they're not played as sneering, over-the-top-madmen. They do plenty of evil, horrific deeds, but the matter-of-fact, businesslike way they conduct themselves at all times makes them more unsettling.

Of course, it all leads to a redemption arc for Jolie's firefighter character. But even if Dead is a fairly conventional story, it's done skillfully and moves along at a brisk pace (100 minutes is refreshingly brief these days).

Those Who Wish Me Dead is now in theaters and on HBO Max.

*** stars (out of four)

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