Those Who Wish Me Dead is another gripping thriller on one level but it’s also a tale of survival and what we do when we face the odds.
The film runs just over an hour and a half but you’re never not on the edge of the seat. It’s thrilling until the very end. I wouldn’t necessarily say that this is a starring vehicle for Angelina Jolie. Jolie might be the first-billed but this film is a true ensemble thriller.
Hannah (Angelina Jolie), a smokejumper, hasn’t quite emotionally recovered from failing to save three lives during a wildfire. She takes pain out on herself to to speak. This might not be the rational thing to do but it is what it is. Anyway, she finds herself alone in a watchtower during a thunderstorm. Lighting happens to strike the tower, which probably isn’t the best place to be in the Montana wilderness. Unbeknownst to Hannah, there is other, more lethal, activity nearby. This is what brings Connor (Finn Little) under her wing. He’s not one to easily open up about what’s happening. All he wants to do is get into town and call up the news. He can’t really trust anybody. After what he just went through, you certainly would not blame him. So. Much. Trauma!
Hannah and Connor must fend for themselves as they make their way to town. Nature has something else in mind. If it’s not a lighting storm, it’s the killers Patrick (Nicholas Hoult) and Jack (Aidan Gillen) searching for Connor AND a fire heading their way. There isn’t really any safe direction in which they can travel. After hurting over not being able to save three lives, saving Connor could give Hannah a chance at redemption.
The film itself veers a bit from the book according to production materials. However, they do keep the spirit alive and well. Anyway, Taylor Sheridan is no stranger to making films about the wilderness. He’s done it before through the likes of Hell or High Water and Wind River. Nor is the filmmaker a stranger to violence. This time around, there’ is nothing like the triggering scene in Wind River.
I had the chance to see this one on the big screen. Honestly, I simply can’t imagine a first viewing being on television. Warner Bros. is releasing their slate in both theaters and HBO Max but obviously, audiences need to go with what’s comfortable. But for me, the sound mix plays so much better in theaters. I think it’s really taken a pandemic for me to understand just why filmmakers prefer their films on the big screen. The small screen just wouldn’t do justice, not for a first viewing.
Those Who Wish Me Dead will keep viewers on the edge of their seat during this gripping tale of survival.
DIRECTOR: Taylor Sheridan
SCREENWRITERS: Michael Koryta and Charles Leavitt and Taylor Sheridan
CAST: Angelina Jolie, Nicholas Hoult, Finn Little, Aidan Gillen, Medina Senghore, Jake Weber, Tyler Perry, and Jon Bernthal