A pairing between Angelina Jolie (Salt) and writer/director Taylor Sheridan (remembered for Wild River) has an enticing quality about it. Yet, being back in the action game for the notable actress and humanitarian isn’t very exciting and enkindling cinema.
Those Who Wish Me Dead traverses a milieu which concerns killing and forest fires, the later Sheridan handles dutifully with his craft contributors especially lensing pro Ben Richardson. As New Mexico fills in for the Montana wilderness.
Trauma of losing lives as a smoke-jumper has weighed heavily on Jolie’s Hannah now positioned at a watchtower. A pretty tidy runtime finds Hannah hooking up with young Conor (an affable newcomer in Finn Little) with hired guns (Nicholas Hoult of The Favourite and Aiden Gillen) on his trail. They’ve already taken care of the boy’s father (Jake Weber). It’s up to Hannah to use her special skillset to keep Connor and herself from harm’s way as raging forest fire looms.
The widescreen images of practical and GCI effects has a certain immersive aura about it, yet the buildup to the more crucial sequences is a bit rickety. Even Sheridan as co-writer, Jolie can’t make Hannah a very involving presence even with a creditable, conflicted nature. As she was able to bring viewers into pain in films like Girl, Interrupted, and The Bone Collector.
There’s not the kind of expected engagement in the Hannah/Connor dynamic compared to ratcheting tension say as a crash or shootout ensues; You’d be surprised how interest deflects to the cold-blooded pursuers and a sheriff (Jon Bernthal) and his very pregnant missus. As for the potential of Me Dead there are those who wish that Sheridan could have made a more empowering figure of its protagonist not to mention more taut and unpredictable than platitudinous.