Those Who Want Me Dead, manhunt with Angelina Jolie, the review

Those Who Want Me Dead, manhunt with Angelina Jolie, the review

Those Who Want Me Dead

It is available from June 3 in digital exclusive, for premium purchase and rental on Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video, Youtube, Google Play, TIMVISION, Chili, Rakuten TV, PlayStation Store, Microsoft Film & TV and for premium rental on Sky Primafila and Mediaset Play Infinity, Those Who Want Me Dead. This is the new film directed by Oscar nominee Taylor Sheridan (Hell or High Water, The Secrets of Wind River) starring Angelina Jolie. Will the director / screenwriter have succeeded in repeating the success of his previous films, real little pearls of the neo-noir and neo-western genre?

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Manhunt against a backdrop of relentless nature

Hannah Farber (Angelina Jolie) is a veteran paratrooper firefighter who suffers from an obvious post-traumatic stress crisis after a last rescue mission saw 3 young boys die in a devastating forest fire in Park County, Montana. Across the country, in Florida, Owen Casserly, a forensic auditor, learns on the news that his boss died in the explosion of his home apparently caused by a gas leak. Casserly quickly realizes it was malicious and hurriedly leaves with her son Connor, heading to Park County.

Actually on Casserly's footsteps there are two professionals, the brothers Jack and Patrick Blackwell (Aidan Gillen - Game of Thrones and Nicholas Hoult - X-Men), very resourceful and extremely motivated, who put themselves immediately on the trail of the two fugitives. Casserly, realizing that his end is near, writes on a piece of paper all the vital information on the case that, in his opinion, led to this death trail and entrusts it to his son with the promise to reveal everything exclusively to the press. should the situation turn for the worst.

The two actually manage to arrive in Montana but the Blackwells are already waiting for them and brutally close the job. However, their famous efficiency did not take into account the foresight of the man who managed to make his son flee shortly before his death. Called to order by their mysterious boss (Tyler Perry), the two set out on the trail of the young Connor.

But why did Connor and his father cross the country seeking refuge in Montana? More simply to reach Ethan Sawyer (Jon Bernthal - The Punisher, The Walking Dead) deputy sheriff of the county and uncle of the boy. The Blackwells must absolutely complete the assignment and do not hesitate to use any means available, including starting an arson, while Connor fleeing into the woods meets Hannah who is stationed in an isolated turret.

front of the increasingly threatening fire, Hannah and Connor begin to walk towards the nearest town. The boy is scared to death, the woman initially does not know how to relate to him. When Connor finally explains the situation to Hannah, however, it seems to be already too late: the two must backtrack and take refuge again to the turret and call for help.

Meanwhile Ethan is joined by the Blackwells who have already attacked his wife Allison forcing him to guide him in the woods and follow Connor's footsteps. The turret thus becomes the center of the final confrontation while the fire threatens everyone without distinction.

When synthesis doesn't help

Those Who Want Me Dead is the adaptation of Michael Koryta's novel of the same name (who took care of the screenplay of the film, you can buy the novel published in Italy by Piemme directly on Amazon) whose premises seem to adhere perfectly to the directorial and narrative style of Taylor Sheridan. The director / screenwriter has in fact earned in recent years, with good reason, the role of standard-bearer of the rebirth of the crime / noir / western genre in a new and modern guise against the backdrop of an America often forgotten and above all far from the easy excesses of the great metropolis, be it the classic New York or Los Angeles, but also Chicago or Boston.

And in fact Those Who Want Me Dead immediately find solid ground in this sense. The story moves immediately from absolute Florida to the wooded and remote Montana where the director can on the one hand orchestrate a manhunt (or rather the boy) according to the most classic stylistic features of the genre and on the other advantage of the narrative that natural element so preponderant in his style.

The screenplay, and the novel on which it is based, does not want and does not actually deviate from the stylistic features of the reference genre and Sheridan does not have to do is play with the tension of crime / noir, adding his own touch as well as chiseling archetypal characters declined with an eye to the "rural" and less urban setting that is predominant when one thinks of the genre just mentioned.

It is an operation that the Taylor Sheridan has already successfully carried out in the aforementioned Hell or High Water and Wind River secrets but also in the splendid Yellowstone , a TV series with Kevin Costner just happens to be set in Montana, but also indirectly in Sicario or more recently in Senza Rimorso. Too bad that the approach here works only partially due perhaps to an excessive tendency to synthesis that affects more than the characters the plot that does not find the right satisfaction in a good but excessively "open" ending that could displace more than one spectator.

From the point of view of the stylistic features of the genre, the director creates a tensive line capable of progressively putting the protagonists increasingly with their backs to the wall (thanks also to the expedient of the killbox) while the natural element it replaces in an equally progressive way in the role of antagonist or rather of equalizing element that brings the narrative back into the assumption according to which "crime does not pay". The final one of the film is a brutal standoff, but it fails to reach the levels of the previous films of the private director, some of the visual refinement of The Secrets of Wind River or the depth of the characters of Hell or High Water.

In this sense, Those Who Want Me Dead empties, summarizes, sketches without going into too much depth any aspect (even the technical ones that on more than one occasion have helped the director in the past) configuring itself as an enjoyable film, in the face of 100 minutes in length, but definitely a step below his previous works.

Those Who Want Me Dead, a 90s thriller

Taylor Sheridan puts together for Those Who Want Me Dead a proven team made up of director of photography Ben Richardson (Wind River Secrets ), Production designer Neil Spisak, costume designer Kari Perkins, editor Chad Galster (Yellowstone) and composer Brian Tyler. But everyone seems to be working at a minimum. Above all, photography is not as effective as in other films and Sheridan himself, both in terms of framing and camera movement, opts for more practical solutions that are effective but far from, for example, his typical long shots and the horizontality that distinguishes his style. .

The dry course then brings to mind more the thriller vein as widely exploited in the 90s than the neo-noir / neo-western. A choice that obviously falls short of expectations, especially those of Sheridan's fans, also in light of the excellent cast put together for the film.

Jon Bernthal is always abrasive and charged like a spring ready to shoot (perhaps his is the best scene in the film), Aidan Gillen and Nicholas Hoult form a strange couple that complements each other and reminds us of certain characters who are a bit Tarantinian and a bit beyond David Fincher. Very good performances of the young Finn Little in the role of Connor and Medina Senghore who plays Ethan's tough wife, Allison. A little too contrite and at times excessively charged with drama, the performance of the protagonist Angelina Jolie. The actress is certainly not new to roles of this type but she opted for a more direct approach, easy in some ways, without actually delving into the psychology of her character that she only surfaces in the final part of the film. Too bad because there was so much potential to offer a sui generis protagonist as well as those usually offered by Taylor Sheridan's films.

If you are looking for a thriller that is all in all far from the standards of the genre and not excessively demanding, also and above all in terms of playing time, Quelli che Vuali Morto is an excellent choice for a home cinema night on one of these early summer evenings.

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