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Those Who Wish Me Dead (2021)


Those Who Wish Me Dead spends way too much time table-setting without explaining what each piece is. The film jumps from Florida to Montana and back to long, gorgeous tracking shots of the forests of Montana. I was never able to connect with the characters and walked away from the movie with a shrug.

The character tree for this film has a lot of intertwined branches, but none of those branches or relationships are explored at all. Angelina Jolie is a smoke jumper haunted by not attempting to save three teenage boys from a wildfire. While Jolie is a great actress this is not a noteworthy film for her. I understand that the character had a traumatic experience. She has a bit of a death wish as a result, which a psych evaluation revealed just days after the boy’s death. Somehow the forestry department decided to put her alone in a watchtower, a tower high enough where she could leap to her death at any impulse.

Nicholas Hoult and Aidan Gillen (Little finger from GOT) are two assassins that drive the plot of the movie forward. Thanks to a license plate on an SUV that Tyler Perry gets into after his thirty-second appearance we get the smallest of back story. They are pursuing a teenage boy who has accounting evidence of federal crimes. Yup, the motivations for all the killings in this movie are evidence discovered by a forensic accountant. Nothing is ever explained in any sort of meaningful ways beyond ‘top men.’

When a film lacks an interesting story arc and character development it must rely on the action scenes. The CGI for the forest fires has improved since Skyscraper. The action sequences are mildly entertaining at best. One side is always outgunned and the creative solutions to that are not very interesting. Watching two ‘company men’ kill with reckless abandon does not keep my attention.

I was not a fan of this movie and I am glad I watched it at home on HBO Max. It is just over 90 minutes long, so I did not have to sit through it for too long. At times it kept my attention but as soon as I tried to think more deeply about it, the entire thing fell apart. I kept waiting for a plot twist, explanation of motivation, or character development and I had none by the time the credits rolled.

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