Wild Card is one unusual film if only that it comes across as a mish-mash of a feature film mixed with some kind of TV pilot with the variety of colorful side characters and a patch-work of a plot. Statham for his part though was fine albeit no different than any of his other run-of-the-mill crime-thrillers and the supporting cast was good but often underutilized to the point of being useless (Jason Alexander for instance has one scene and is not seen again… at all).
Genre(s): Drama, Crime, Suspense
Lionsgate | R – 92 min. – $24.99 | March 31, 2015
THE MOVIE – 3.0/5
Wild Card is based on a novel entitled “Heat” which itself was adapted into a feature film back in 1986 starring Burt Reynolds and like its predecessor, based on reviews of the ’86 version anyway, neither really hit it out of the park with this one having some moments but little payoff.
Note: This portion of the review contains MAJOR SPOILERS. If you don’t wish to learn about the plot, please skip this section.
The film centers on Nick Wild (JASON STATHAM), a “security consultant” with a mysterious background and seemingly stuck in Las Vegas but with hopes of escaping once he gathers $500,000 to make a new life. However, he doesn’t seem fully committed to his plan especially when, in his introduction, he was hired to make a man look good in front of his woman (SOFIA VERGARA), and is offered $1,000 but Nick only takes the initial $500 as agreed upon.
From here, the plot takes some weird or unusual turns, but there are two subplots going on. One has a young multi-millionaire (MICHAEL ANGARANO) hiring Nick for basically some sight-seeing around Vegas while the other involves an old friend, Holly (DOMINIK GARCIA-LORIDO), who was sexually molested before being brutally beaten up by mobster Danny DeMarco (MILO VENTIMIGLIA) and his goons. She survives and calls upon Nick to find these men and exact revenge.
Initially hesitant, very hesitant on the verge of being cold hearted in fact, Nick does some digging and finds the men and where they are staying. In relatively quick fashion, he sets the vengeance into motion whereupon Holly is able to torment DeMarco, threatening to cut his… ahem… man part. This is only maybe halfway through the film for a plot that seemed to more or less hinge on the revenge element.
In our B-plot – or maybe C-plot – as Nick plays some blackjack and through incredible luck or good fortune takes $100 worth of chips and turns it into a cool $506,000, enough for him to get out of town. It’s here we get to see Nick’s hesitation, even with money in hand, something is holding back from escaping. This is actually one of the better parts and shows Wild Card, even with some generic fight scenes that we’ve seen Statham do in the past (still enjoyable nevertheless), that this is more of a character study than a crime drama.
Despite the vengeance portion done, Nick’s troubles only have begun. DeMarco attempts to frame Nick for murder for which mob boss Baby (STANLEY TUCCI seemingly fresh off the set of Hunger Games) needs to settle the matter, though he doesn’t exactly believe DeMarco’s story.
** End Spoilers **
Wild Card is a movie that focuses more on character than plot however even on that level, it never quite succeeds. Jason Statham is a fine actor and his performance here is alright, albeit hardly any different than Parker or The Mechanic. And that’s the big problem with not only this movie but with Statham. Sure, he’s a charismatic guy and I’ll (almost) always enjoy watching him in just about anything he’s in, but when you have a plot and character that are not especially memorable, it merely blends into the background and is soon forgotten.
The film was helmed by Simon West probably best known for Con Air, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and previously worked with Statham on The Mechanic and The Expendables 2. William Goldman (The Princess Bride, The General’s Daughter) wrote the screenplay based on his own novel, “Heat” (the original title before making the change) and is the second attempt to bring the character to the big screen, the first being released back in 1986 starring Burt Reynolds, which, based on the ratings, was equally as mundane.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 2.5/5
This release comes with a glossy and reflective slip cover. Inside is a redemption code for the Digital HD copy.
Audio Commentary – Director Simon West sits down for a simple but informative track providing details on filming locales, working with the cast and other little tid-bits. Nothing phenomenal but West is an engaging fellow.
Script Vignette (5:17; HD) looks at the story behind Wild Card featuring interviews with the cast (including Hope Davis, Milo Ventimiglia) and crew (Simon West).
Original Sin: Las Vegas and the Characters of Wild Card (16:26; HD) – Here we get a behind-the-scenes featurette looking at filming in Vegas as well as the ensemble characters.
VIDEO – 4.25/5
Wild Card is presented with a 2.40 widescreen aspect ratio and a 1080p high-definition transfer (MPEG-4 AVC). The picture quality isn’t great but does offer sharp detail levels and appears to be free of specs, dust and other ailments as well as aliasing, pixilation or banding.
AUDIO – 4.25/5
The movie comes equipped with a well balanced DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 channel track. A large portion of the movie is dialogue-driven, with some Christmas music thrown in for good measure, and so it’s a bit on the limited side but still offers clear dialogue levels throughout and when we get to the more action-centric scenes, such as Statham fights, it does give some decent depth and usage of the rear channels. The LFE track is a more hit or miss clicking on every so often but not effectively used. Still, it’s a fine lossless track that is just dynamic enough to make for a fine aural experience.
OVERALL – 3.0/5
Overall, Wild Card is one unusual film if only that it comes across as a mish-mash of a feature film mixed with some kind of TV pilot with the variety of colorful side characters and a patch-work of a plot. Statham for his part though was fine albeit no different than any of his other run-of-the-mill crime-thrillers and the supporting cast was good but often underutilized to the point of being useless (Jason Alexander for instance has one scene and is not seen again… at all). As a rental, Wild Card would be fine but even Statham fans might not get much out of it.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman
Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.