- RatedM18 /GenreCrime, Thriller
Jason Statham, playing Nick Wild, a recovering gambling addict and weary bodyguard-for-hire in sinful, unmerciful Las Vegas, proclaims in this movie: “What you see on my face is ecstasy.”
You must know this British badboy is being ironic here, because in most of his movies, his stoic, rock-like face doesn’t move.
Seriously, you cannot tell if he is sad, totally depressed, completely suicidal or inwardly jumping out of his skin in sheer, abundant joy.
Neither does his mouth move much since he always mumbles his lines in the most economically soft-spoken way as though words are a complete nuisance.
Surprisingly, he does speak a lot more than usual here in this slow-churning crime action-drama – directed by his good English mate, Simon West (‘The Expendables 2’) – that is a remake of a 1986 Burt Reynolds film called ‘Heat’.
Sofia Vergara (left) and Jason Statham do not get to share hair-care tips in 'Wild Card' | Photo: Cathay Keris
Now, if you like your Statham with a little more chat and a little less whack (though the man still sends many people to the morgue with just a spoon and a butter knife), this is heaven for you.
If not, run.
Out of curiosity, I did some research on this flick.
Many people apparently ran away from it in America since it cost US$30 million (S$41 million) to make and earned a spectacularly disastrous US$3,200 when it was released in there on 30 January 2015.
In betting terms, that is quite an apocalyptic loss.
Insidiously though, you also feel like you have struck the lottery hearing Statham talk so much.
Gambling, you see, is an existential state of mind here to keep his character's dream alive, of escaping from his dead-end world of rut.
“You’re not supposed to like Vegas. It’s just this creeping virus people catch sometimes,” he explains in a mouthful like he is the Certified Confucius Of Casinos.
You know Nick Wild is recovering from something profound since he likes to sit laconically by himself at the bar counter and knows caring waitresses and card dealers by name (Anne Heche and Hope Davis pop up, along with Seinfeld’s Jason Alexander, Sofia Vergara and Stanley Tucci as a rather reasonable mob boss).
Two things happen to him while he is in this hazy, boozy bubble.
One – a timid rich tech geek pitifully named Cyrus (Michael Angarano) hires Wild to chaperone him to the happening nightspots and fun dens of Vegas.
Two – his prostitute friend, Holly (Dominik Garcia-Lorido from TV’s ‘Magic City’), gets raped and beaten badly by a very cruel, brutal and cocky gangster, Danny DeMarco (Milo Ventimiglia from 'Heroes') and she seeks his reluctant help in exacting revenge.
Jason Statham is almost superhuman in 'Wild Card' | Photo: Cathay Keris
Nick is a man prone to seeing justice done even when his friends don’t deserve his kindness and attention.
“What if they kill me?” he asks Holly as he considers her request.
“I’ll be miserable for days,” she replies heartlessly.
He is definitely set up to be one of those lonesome, noir-ish anti-heroes, a fellow who possesses basically nothing but is willing to sacrifice everything and become a hunted man for the sake of his pals.
While you ask what else is new, Statham owns this role quite easily, if you can make out his accent.
Of course, what the man does possess is a great bullet of a baldhead, possibly the best in the bar-room-brawler action business.
He uses it effectively like a lethal weapon in one-versus-five or one-versus-20 fights.
Broken glass, broken decor, broken heads – who is counting except the insurance companies of those stuntmen.
Nick even flicks credit cards like deadly ninja stars at his opponents.
At which point, I quickly checked my wallet just to make sure my cards, money and IOU from the movie are still there.
'Wild Card' opens 12 March 2015