Those Who Wish Me Dead | A Grounded Action Thriller with a Great Ensemble Cast

This movie is adaptated and directed by Taylor Sheridan who penned the recent adaptation of Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse. Here Sheridan wrote this story with Charles Leavitt (In The Heart of the Sea, 7th Son) and the source material’s author Michael Koryta. He’s rounds up quite the cast including Angelina Jolie (Unbroken), Finn Little (2067), Jon Bernthal (The Punisher, The Wolf of Wall Street), Medina Senghore (Happy!), Jake Weber (Hungry Hearts, Medium), Aidan Gillen (GoT) and Nicholas Hoult (Dark Places, A Single Man).

Premise: In the Montana wilderness, a teenage boy, Connor, survives the attack that kills his father. Pursued by the assassins intent on silencing him, he meets a veteran smokejumper, Hannah Faber, who offers him shelter in her look out tower. Tracked down by the killers who set the forest on fire, Hannah and Connor, must escape the deadly blaze that threatens to consume them and outwitt their pursuers.

Review: Those Who Wish Me Dead moves a bit too fast but it keeps you hooked and engaged from start to finish. I am amazed at how they’ve trimmed that story down and combined some characters and storylines to narrow the focus one character, the boy named Connor. He still needs saving but not for the same reasons. The movie avoided that one plot point that bothered me so much in the novel and did away with some of the mes desirable aspects in the original (e.g. there’s a case of fridging* when you think about it, and they’ve swapped out a badly bruised and burnt woman for a pregnant one to name a few) but enough about the novel.

The conditions were much dyer for Connor, for who we have a hint that he’d been in a survival program, him mentioning liking the expense of the Montana wilderness – which is beautifully showcased in the movie – and a “creeks lead to rivers, rivers lead to cities.” reminder before it’s go time. The tension kept rising as the storytelling got richer with its characters and the location. As I’ve mentioned the landscape, the region is very much part of the story and not window dressing.

As for the cast, although Angelina Jolie is front and center, it’s not her character’s story but the entire cast’s. It starts with Jake Weber‘s Owen and Finn Little‘s Connor but their troubles reverberates into the lives of the others. Jon Bernthal and Medina Senghore shine in this movie, they have great moments, particularly Senghore. And even if Aiden Gillen and Nicholas Hoult do a great job their characters are not the chilling assassins I expected but are written as your run of mil baddies, it’s the actors that brought some of that edge.

Taylor Sheridan has written a lot of movies that I’ve seen but this is the first one, that he’s directed that I’ve watched. He does a great job here and from what I know of the movies he’s directed they seem to be quite location centric, which makes this story right up his alley. In a limited amount of time he really gives you a feel for the setting and its people. I quite enjoyed that. The visual effect are also impressive and well used, however I still don’t understand how a watchtower is not protected against lightening, but I know that’s nitpicking.

Those Who Wish Me Dead is a solid thriller, nothing too fancy, it’s engaging, it entertains and the ensemble cast is great. It has the heart of the novel but is enough of its own thing to make both stories (book & movie) enjoyable.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.

If you’re interested in the source material, help us by getting them from the links below:

Those Who Wish Me Dead is also available on The Book Depository and other book retailers near you.

*Fridging is a sexist trope in TV, film, etc. in which a female character is killed at the start to give a male character the chance to avenge her; also called WiR (Women in Refrigerators)

Dark Places | Review

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Is a mystery film based on Gillian Flynn novel and brought to the screen by Gilles Paquet-Brenner. It stars Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Chloe Grace Moretz, Cory Stoll, Christina Hendricks, Tye Sheridan & Drea De Matteo.

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Premise: A woman who survived the brutal killing of her family as a child is forced to confront the events of that day by a secret society obsessed with solving notorious crimes.

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Review: Dark Places was interesting but not as riveting as I had hoped. I never had a chance to read the book – because the movie came out very early in France – so I watched the film with fresh eyes not knowing what I was in for. Problem solver that I am, I watched the film looking for clues but I fairly quickly had all the right suspects lined up before I even got through a quarter of the movie. I don’t know if it’s a testament to my “mad” deductive skills or a lack of mystery in the story telling. The exact same thing happened to me with Gone Girl – the book – which is why I didn’t finish reading it. I guess I was hopping for more of a challenge with Dark Places, something that would have surprised me at the end.

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Anyway, I still enjoyed the film, particularly how Libby’s past memories were shot. They had an 1980s feel to them, I mean in the quality of the images, they had an old VHS tape look to them. They were grainy and shaky, which also gave them an horror movie vibe, while at the same time illustrating how Libby feels about them.

The film is like the title suggest dark, and I’m not just talking about the murders but the whole context the characters are in. It’s socially realistic, you really feel for the struggling mother (Christina Hendricks) and her kids, the poverty and the hardship of their situation is almost palpable and that’s thanks to Hendricks’ performance. The rest of the cast is good but Christina Hendricks and Corey Stoll stand out and elevate the movie.

So to me Dark Places really depicts how prejudices, despair, and a bunch of white lies can snow ball and change people’s lives forever. It’s definitely not thriller of the year but the film is not boring. What are you thoughts on it?

A Single Man | Intriguing and Beautiful

The film is based on the eponymous novel by Christopher Isherwood. The film is directed by first time director Tom Ford and stars Colin Firth, Julianne Moore and Nicholas Hoult among an incredible assemble of actors.

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Synopsis: In the 1960s Los Angeles George Falconer, a depressed gay British English University professor is unable to cope with the sudden death of his boyfriend eight month ago. The film takes place in the course of a single day in the life of George Falconer.

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The movie was incredible. Beautiful photography, every shots were magnificent. I liked how George Falconer’s mood was palpable with Colin Firth’s micro-expressions and the slight shift of colors in the picture. The colors went from dull to luminous very subtly. Falconer’s intentions are clear but I enjoyed how it fluctuated. It made for a more realistic tone and context. It seemed like the world was trying to help him and I loved that.