Review: Those Who Wish Me Dead

Those Who Wish Me Dead sees Angelina Jolie take the lead in this adaption of Michael Koryta’s 2014 novel of the same name but unfortunately as is the case with many page to screen adaptions, it fails to stick the landing and just ends up being another throwaway film that nobody is going to remember in a year’s time.

My first issue of this film though is giving Angelina Jolie top billing as I found it to be a little misleading. Screen time seems to be evenly spread throughout amongst the whole cast making it feel like more of an ensemble piece as a result. Maybe Warner Bros. decided to stick Jolie’s name front and centre to try and capitalise on her apparent star power, but personally I feel the entire film is carried by Finn Little. This kid absolutely knocks it out of the park with his performance and to me at least, it feels like his film.

The film sees a teenage boy named Connor (played by Little) on the run from a couple of assassins who failed to kill him when they murdered his Dad. While making his way through the wilderness Connor bumps into Hannah (played by Jolie), a fire fighter stationed at lookout tower in the forest, and the two need to work together in order to survive the world’s worst assassins.

Add the local sheriff into the mix alongside his pregnant wife and an all consuming fire that threatens to the safety of everyone involved and you have yourself a movie… Just not a very interesting one as what that synopsis doesn’t prepare you for is just how generic and predictable the film is.

There’s nothing really original here that you’ve not seen a hundred times before. Those Who Wish Me Dead is filled with the same old movie tropes and clich├ęs you’ve seen time and time again over the years and they’ve been done way better elsewhere. Whether it be the tragic backstory of one character or another’s utter disregard for their own life.

In a way, the film feels like a throwback to some of the great films I grew up with in the 90’s like The River Wild or Cliffhanger which sees everyday heroes having to overcome the bad guys while also dealing with dangers of mother nature. The film feels like a proverbial greatest hits devoted to a decade long past and for that I can’t help but appreciate it however the fact I don’t think it was done on purpose is worrying and as a result I think it may struggle to success with a modern audience.

Those Who Wish Me Dead also has really strange casting choices as well. For a start, Aidan Gillen and Nicholas Hoult both feel utterly wasted as Generic Bad Guy #1 and Generic Bad Guy #2 respectively and I can’t help but feel Jon Bernthal comes across as being a little neutered in his role as the sheriff because he didn’t really bring much to the table.

There’s also an appearance from Tyler Perry which felt completely random and serves no real purpose. His entire scene could have been removed without any real change to the story.

I assume the point of having these famous names and then rounding out the rest of the cast with some other familiar faces is to bring the feeling of star power to what would otherwise be a middle of the road project. Like I said earlier though, Finn Little is the one who deserves the most credit because without his performance, the film would simply crumble and that’s coming from someone who usually hates kid actors.

Overall, Those Who Wish Me Dead is a decent watch if you’re looking for something to pass the time without the need to engage your brain. I actually didn’t hate the film while I was watching it, it just didn’t leave a lasting impression that would make me want to return for another viewing. Luckily the film it isn’t too long but if you’re looking for something to entice you back into the cinema now that lockdown is starting to ease off, there are better choices out there. I’d probably wait for this one to hit the streaming platforms.

by Edward Laing