2015 / Director. Simon West.
Review by Glenn Cochrane.
WILD CARD snuck up without much fanfare and performed atrociously at the box office. The press release emphasised the fact that the film was a pet-project for Jason Statham, who had been trying to develop it for several years. At one point Brian dePalma was attached to direct before Simon West took over. Set in the seedy world behind the neon lights of Las Vegas, the film tells the story of Nick Wild, a gambling addict who works as a "handy man" to fund his addiction. His past is shrouded with mystery but it's not long before his skills suggest a government/black ops background. He takes any work that comes along and when he accepts a job from a young millionaire things finally start to turn in his favour. That is until an ex-lover comes to him, beaten & raped, and desperate for revenge. Suddenly Nick finds himself dragged into the murky criminal underworld where every turn is a violent one. WILD CARD is a strange beast. It is more or less a one-man show with a heap of big name players coming and going in small cameo roles. Stanley Tucci, Jason Alexander, Sofia Vergara, Hope Davis, Anne Heche and Cedric the Entertainer all come and go within the blink of an eye and Statham is left to carry the film single-handedly. The only other consistent character is the young self-made millionaire, played by Michael Angarano, who serves as an unexpected guiding light. Statham handles the film as though it were a walk in the park and it is clearly a vanity project... but he gets away with it because his screen presence is so strong and fans love what he does. He pulls no punches with every fight sequence being ultra-violent, highly stylised and carefully choreographed. Bones break in slow motion, skulls crack and blood flies as Nick counteracts every obstruction with blunt force. Simon West is the director behind CON-AIR, TOMBRAIDER and THE EXPENDABLES 2 (amongst others) and has an obvious talent with action. With WILD CARD he has toned down the SFX and driven the film in a modest and practical direction. He exploits the Vegas nightlife nicely and was able to throw some very big locations into the mix, giving the production a much bigger feel than its modest budget deserved. I got a kick out of it. It is a fallible film, without question, but it's also a fun one and I really dug it.