‘Those Who Wish Me Dead’ Review: Angelina Jolie Faces Her Demons in an Unconvincing Thriller

Those Who Wish Me Dead is an action thriller adaptation based on the 2014 book by Michael Koryta and directed by Taylor Sheridan (Sicario: Day of the Soldado). The movie stars Oscar-winning actress, Angelina Jolie, who plays a former smoke jumper, now demoted to fire tower duty (smoke spotter). Hanna Faber (Angelina Jolie) suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and is haunted by the ghosts of her past. She “read the wind wrong” during a forest fire which led to the demise of her colleague and some kids.

Meanwhile, forensic accountant, Owen (Jack Weber), and his son, Connor (Finn Little), are on the run after Owen discovers a secret that could hurt some important people in the government. The father makes the decision to flee to his brother-in-law, Ethan Sawyer (Jon Bernthal), who is a Montana police officer. However, due to unforeseen circumstances, Connor ends up in the care of Hannah with a document that has all the government secrets, and two assassins, Patrick and Jack (Aiden Gillen and Nicholas Hoult), on their tail. The action takes off as the smoke spotter tries to protect the boy from the assassins and a forest fire that tries to consume them all.  

Image via Warner Bros. Entertainment

Taylor Sheridan’s Those Who Wish Me Dead plot is simple and straightforward but is an action thriller which falls into the predictable trope. There is nothing mind-blowing about the movie since we are all familiar with how movies of this genre usually end. Those Who Wish Me Dead will definitely draw in fans of Angelina Jolie after the actress’ long ‘sabbatical’ in the action genre. The story is hinged towards Hannah’s road to redemption due to her past mistake. The Montana Wilderness, which is where most of the action takes place, is a beauty to behold, and the movie sets out to depict just how fire (birthed by Patrick’s preposterous idea to fish out Connor) can destroy anything it touches. 

This unusual detour is just a means to make the lead character, Hannah, face her demons and give viewers the necessary closure. Even though Angelina Jolie and Finn Little helm the lead role, Medina Senghore, who plays the role of Owen’s wife, steals the show as most of the action sequence is embedded in the little screen time she has. Aiden Gillen’s (Game of Thrones) and Nicholas Hoult’s (X-Men: Apocalypse) roles as cold-blooded assassins is one done with finesse and the implacable aura they wear like an apparel to show just how far they are willing to go to get the mission done. However, Tyler Perry’s role  in Those Who Wish Me Dead will forever be a mystery to me. He is introduced as the boss of the assassins and he comes in abruptly to say just two or three lines and disappears completely. If this unnecessary digression is removed, the movie still stands. 

Image via Warner Bros. Entertainment

The 1hr 40min movie’s enchantment lies in how the catastrophic forest fire is vividly captured. One could hear the crackling and feel the intensity of the wild forest fire as it burns on screen. Whilst the movie or the director failed to explain the sort of information the forensic accountant discovered accompanied by the unconvincing reason for starting a forest fire and the essence of Tyler Perry’s cameo, these little inconsistencies in the story line can be shrugged off. Above all, Those Who Wish Me Dead is a story about survival and is better suited to be watched with family at home rather than making an unnecessary outing to the cinema. 

Rating: 6/10

Side Musings 

  • Medina Senghore’s astuteness and superb performance overshadows any of the other characters in Those Who Wish Me Dead.

Those Who Wish Me Dead is currently showing on HBO Max and in theatres.

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