A Vegas set Jason Statham vehicle from the director of Con Air? How could this possibly go wrong? Well, it doesn’t. Sort of. The aforementioned Statham might be a one trick pony, but I sure love that trick. He’s one of the few actors today that makes good old-fashioned action films, and even though they’re a mixed bag quality wise, they’re almost always fun enough to fill a couple of hours. Combine that with director Simon West, who himself tends to make more old-fashioned action films, and has worked with Statham multiple times before, and you should have a fairly decent action film.
Something I don’t think anybody would expect from Wild Card is anything new or original, but strangely enough that’s exactly what it delivers. This film has two very different, and almost completely separate story threads, that are connected only because Nick Wild (Statham’s character) appears in both during the same film. This might seem like a strange thing to say, but allow me to explain.
One half of the film has Nick working as a professional ‘chaperon’, accompanying the wealthy but inexperienced Cyrus (Michael Angarano) around Vegas during his first visit. The other half of the story is a revenge thriller, with Nick taking on the powerful and threatening Danny DeMarco (Milo Ventimiglia), against the advice of an old friend. There’s also a sub-plot in which Nick suffers from a gambling problem, which only comes up in one scene, even though it feels like it should be an important part of the plot. These jumbled story elements are typical of book to film adaptations, which could have been made more prominent by the fact that the script writer, William Goldman, also wrote the novel that Wild Card is based on.
The first two-thirds of this film struggle to stay interesting, with scenes failing to fit together, and the passing of time frequently being inconsistent and hard to keep track of. The only thing that really keeps the film going is Statham’s natural charisma, as many of the other actors fail to add anything. That is until Stanley Tucci turns up, and that’s when this turns from a boring film into a pretty good one. Much like a lot of the actors who have been featured in the trailers, he’s only in one scene, but he makes such an impact that it doesn’t matter. It also helps that his scene is the delicious filling between the only two real action scenes this film has to offer. These fights are of course well handled, with solid direction and suitably brutal choreography, it’s just a shame that the rest of the film wasn’t as well delivered as the final twenty minutes.
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