Rubado column: 'Those Who Wish Me Dead' falls short of high expectations
The following is an opinion column written by an Echo Press editorial staff member. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the Echo Press.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about how impressive David Fincher’s catalog is from top to bottom.
The only movie of his that was a real flop was “Alien 3,” while producing classics like “Gone Girl,” “The Social Network” and “Fight Club.” A ton of filmmakers have put together a quality resume, and Taylor Sheridan is on the list.
We rarely get a very selective filmmaker of what they choose to make while hardly missing on the films that eventually hit production. The best example is Quentin Tarantino, who has amassed a large cult-like following for his movies. He’s made 11 films over 29 years, which is a slower pace than what most established filmmakers reach.
The comparisons between Sheridan and Tarantino are becoming more evident. Not in the sense of how they make their films. While both indulge in the graphic side of action cinema, Sheridan is far more direct with his writing, whereas Tarantino loves to draw out a plot. But it’s apparent both have a style.
Not every one of Tarantino’s movies is stellar. I didn’t care for “The Hateful Eight” or “Death Proof” as much as “Pulp Fiction” and “Inglourious Basterds.” Now, the same can be said when I talk about Sheridan.
His latest release, “Those Who Wish Me Dead,” was an underwhelming thriller that left me wanting more. Sheridan, who made three great films in “Hell or High Water,” “Sicario” and “Wind River,” took a chance in adapting Micahel Koryta’s popular novel to the big screen.
It’s the story about a disgruntled Montana firefighter battling her past. Hannah Faber, played by Angelina Jolie, recalls a massive forest fire where her mistake cost the lives of three children and a firefighter. Back in the woods, she encounters a stranded child, played by Finn Little, and gets a second chance at redemption.
“Game of Thrones” fans might recognize the antagonist in this film. Aidan Gillen, who played Little Finger in the HBO classic, shares the villain roles with Nicholas Hoult. To me, this is where the movie fails.
I found myself just so annoyed with Gillen’s character and his cadence on screen. There were so many eye-rolling moments that were so frustrating to see. There was so much to like about this movie. Jon Bernthal and Medina Denghore were fantastic alongside Little and Jolie. But you can’t have the antagonists be the reason the film feels off.
I don’t think it’s necessarily Gillen’s fault either. A common trend with movies that spawn from books is the lack of character depth. Without spoiling anything, we never found out what Gillen and Hoult were trying to protect, which made them the villains in the first place.
I found the end to be underwhelming as well. I don’t know if this film could’ve used another 20 minutes to add character development, but that’s the evident downfall.
Easily the best part of “Those Who Wish Me Dead” was Little. This is the best youth acting performance I’ve seen in some time.
I also thought the movie looked a lot better cinematically in theaters than it did on my television. I saw this on the big screen Sunday night, but it’s also streaming on HBO Max. I wanted to rewatch two parts, and it’s noticeably different. “Those Who Wish Me Dead” was made for a theater experience.
I’m giving this movie a 58/100. I’m definitely on the lower end when I look at how critics rated it, but I also went in with much higher expectations. Sheridan, who’s made three movies with ratings 90 or better, gets put on a pedestal. This one came up just a bit short.