Everything about Taylor Sheridan‘s Those Who Wish Me Dead feels like it was made in 1998 and they somehow forgot to release until 2021. I mean that as a compliment, I really do. Sheridan’s film is one of the most well executed big budget Hollywood films in a long time, a major breath of fresh air in the current climate of superheroes and CGI.
When his account father is murdered, Connor (Finn Little) takes-off into the wilderness pursued by pair of assassins (Nicholas Hoult and Aidan Gillen). He happens upon Angelina Jolie‘s Hannah, a grounded smoke jumper who is struggling with the repercussions of her past. She has a shot a redemption when she takes Connor under her wing in an attempt to outwit his pursuers. Also caught-up in the assassination plot is Jon Bernthal‘s Sheriff’s Deputy and his pregnant wife (Medina Senghore).
Slick, stylish and exceedingly well executed, Those Who Wish Me Dead is another excellent thriller from writer/director Taylor Sheridan. Like with his previous directorial effort Wind River, his script for Hell Or High Water and his Yellowstone series starring Kevin Costner, Those Who Wish Me Dead leans heavily on western tropes as a way of crafting character and setting. Sheridan brings those tropes up-to-date, creating a modern west which utilises the genre’s mythos as shorthand. There are few modern filmmakers who have a hand as deft as Sheridan.
Beautifully shot by cinematographer Ben Richardson, Those Who Wish Me Dead is a great looking film. The practical effects are excellent and the slight digital augmentation never feels intrusive. Like I previously said, this feels like it could have been made a quarter of a century ago.
A former actor, Sheridan knows how to get a good performance from his cast. Angelina Jolie might be playing a daredevil smoke jumper, but she’s more than a one note hero. Finn Little is excellent as the young boy tracked by the killers and Jon Bernthal and Medina Senghore add a complexity and extra tension to proceedings. Even Nicholas Hoult and Aidan Gillen‘s killers feel textured.
A hugely enjoyable action-thriller, Those Who Wish Me Dead is a highly recommended piece of old-fashioned Hollywood entertainment.
Those Who Wish Me Dead is out now in the UK on Blu-ray.