In our latest review, we have Those Who Wish Me Dead, a new film on HBO Max, starring Angelina Jolie. The film follows Hannah, a smokejumper in Montana reeling from the loss of three lives she failed to save from a fire, who encounters a traumatized boy with nowhere else to turn.
With the world slowly but surely reopening there are a lot more movies opening only in theaters now. So naturally, a lot of these films are taking over the conversation, leaving a film on streaming like this one, left behind.
Angelina Jolie is a bonafide star
Jolie seems to be having a resurgence in her acting career. With both this film and her starring role in The Eternals later this year, it seems that acting is once again her focus after years of producing and directing excellent films herself. And it’s good to see her in front of the camera again because she is a phenomenal actor, especially in this film when she is on screen.
And that’s the biggest problem with this film. Jolie isn’t on screen nearly as much as I would like. Finn Little plays the young boy in the film who ends up on his own being chased by two trained killers.
The execution of this plot point is the bare minimum in effort. I found myself not really understanding why this kid is in this position and what the backstory behind that has to do with Jolie’s character and this world of smokejumpers that is established in the first few minutes of the movie.
What is smokejumping? Do we end up learning enough?
Smokejumpers are exactly what they sound like they are. They jump from the sky into the smoke of wildfires to find and rescue anyone caught in the destruction and send them back to safety.
Without knowing anything about the film, you’d think that this would be a very character-driven story about Jolie’s character coming to terms with losing lives on her last mission. And also a golden opportunity for the audience to learn more about the perils of this unique job.
Instead this film feels like two concepts smashed into one screenplay. There’s a compelling smokejumper film, and then there is this espionage, action, chase film forced in. It did not fit for me at all because the film was constantly at odds with itself.
The assassins in the film are never really explained. Their motivations are simplistic yet somehow unclear, and you learn very little about this town, the characters within it, and that’s what made the beginning of the film special for me.
Those Who Wish Me Dead review
With so many concepts and ideas forming at the same time, there is not a lot of runtime to handle it all. Clocking in at just one hour and thirty-nine minutes, the film is short. And half of it is spent in a standoff at the watchtower Jolie’s character lives in.
You leave the film empty. Not really gaining anything from what you just watched and that’s disappointing considering that I was looking forward to this film.
Not to say that it is a bad film. The cinematography is excellent and the acting from everyone is well done. There also is a heavy amount of action that will please those movie fans. The script just leaves something to be desired.
I think a film like this could’ve been a unique opportunity to transport audiences into the lives of smokejumpers. That’s what movies are about. Taking us from our daily lives into the lives of other people we may have never thought of or seen for a few hours.
Instead, the premise of this film just felt like the backdrop for an action movie to give it an appearance of a unique flair. When in reality this is a film we’ve all seen a thousand times.
In review, Those Who Wish Me Dead isn’t something you should rush to go see. It’s a decent film. But if you’re expecting it to be anything more than what it is, don’t hold your breath. There are a lot of better films releasing that may be worth your time more than this.