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critics consensus

A squarely traditional '90s-style action thriller, Those Who Wish Me Dead is elevated by Taylor Sheridan's propulsive direction. Read critic reviews

audience says

The edge-of-your-seat action helps Those Who Wish Me Dead cover for the rough patches in its plot -- and the onscreen bond between Angelina Jolie and Finn Little takes care of the rest. Read audience reviews

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Movie Info

A smoke jumper and a traumatized boy fight for their lives as two relentless assassins pursue them through a raging fire in the Montana wilderness.

Cast & Crew

James Jordan
Ben
Howard Ferguson Jr.
Vic
Michael Koryta
Screenwriter
Charles Leavitt
Screenwriter
Taylor Sheridan
Screenwriter
Steven Thibault
Executive Producer
Ashley Levinson
Executive Producer
Andria Spring
Executive Producer
Jason Cloth
Executive Producer
Richard McConnell
Executive Producer
Kathryn Dean
Executive Producer
Michael Friedman
Executive Producer
Daria Cercek
Executive Producer
Celia Khong
Executive Producer
Ben Richardson
Cinematographer
Chad Galster
Film Editor
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Critic Reviews for Those Who Wish Me Dead

All Critics (201) | Top Critics (47) | Fresh (126) | Rotten (75)

Audience Reviews for Those Who Wish Me Dead

  • May 25, 2021
    Regardless of the subject matter, I've become a sucker for any project that Taylor Sheridan (writer/director) is involved in. Wind River was the first film that he both wrote and directed and it ended up being one of my favourite films of 2017. For that, I was very excited to see Those Who Wish Me Dead. While it may not have all the nuance that his previous outing did, his touch is still very much alive here. It has issues, but here's why I believe this film deserves some attention.  The film picks up with Hannah (Angelina Jolie), a hotshot survivalist who is struggling to cope with losses in her past. Alone in the wilderness and just trying to find peace, she stumbles across a young boy who has just witnessed a murder. Both now hiding from a looming threat and a forest fire on the horizon, it very quickly becomes a dramatic survival movie. There were almost too many subplots here for the short runtime that it has, but it all worked in the end. Some of the dialogue here felt generic at times too, so the fact that it had such a great cast definitely elevated the material.  Angelina Jolie delivers a very solid performance here, but the standout to me was young Finn Little as Connor. His comradery with Jolie is what truly sold the movie for me. Their back and forth dialogue brought a smile to my face and their dramatic moments worked just as well. Sadly, the film feels bogged down the most with the characters Jack (Aidan Gillen) and Patrick (Nicholas Hoult). While they're both great actors, I found their storyline to be all over the place. There were scenes where it felt like they were being villainous for the sake of villainy and it didn't work for me. Their motivations were lacklustre at best.  This leads me to the overall structure of the film. I enjoy when a film places you in the present with a character and has you learn about their past as the film progresses, but I felt like Those Who Wish Me Dead jumped into Hannah's past far too quickly. It was very obvious from the beginning what her arc would be throughout the film. It was well done, but the storytelling was too obvious at times. There wasn't enough left to be desired.  Overall, Those Who Wish Me Dead has a lot of great elements in terms of performances, tenseness, and overall visual style, but the film sort of sputters out, to be honest. It pretty much becomes a film about good guys and bad guys in a very generic way and I felt that significantly hurt the film. Still, everything surrounding these poor elements more than made up for them. Now available to see in some theatres, streaming on HBO Max, and on-demand, I think Those Who Wish Me Dead could find a small audience who loves it. I would recommend checking it out.
    KJ P Super Reviewer
  • May 22, 2021
    If I told you I had a movie where Angelina Jolie is on the run from a team of assassins and under the backdrop of a raging forest fire, you'd likely be intrigued. Then if I said that it was co-written and directed by Taylor Sheridan, one of the best screenwriters working today who excels at taking muscular genres of old and providing uncommon depth and poetry, then you might say, "Why aren't we watching this right now?" Those Who Wish Me Dead, based on the book by Michael Koryta, is Sheridan's second directing effort after 2017's excellent Wind River, and while I would not classify it as a bad movie, it is easily Sheridan's weakest film to date. There's so much amazing potential here with these plot elements, this cast, and this rising filmmaker, and to only produce a square, straightforward 90s action throwback feels deeply unsatisfactory. There could have been so much more. We follow Hannah (Jolie) and her team of Montana forest fire fighters. She is still recovering from a recent tragedy where she was unable to save campers from a fire. She's been reassigned to a lonely lookout tower to deal with her guilt and PTSD. Along comes Connor (Finn Little) whose father is being hunted down by a team of hired assassins (Aidan Gillen, Nicholas Hoult). His father is killed but Connor escapes, finding refuge with Hannah and wary of trusting anyone new. The two of them make a trek to find help while the killers narrow their search and start a forest fire to provide a very attention-grabbing distraction for the local authorities. The problem with the plot description I just provided is that there really isn't much more to anything. You can probably see the progression of Hannah's character arc immediately, having to confront her past trauma through combating the forest fire and saving this young boy's life to make amends mentally for those she could not save in her past. The Sheridan of his past work would recognize that familiar arc and provide extra nuance, commentary, and make the character more emotionally resonant. Unfortunately, this version only produces a lead protagonist that is, shockingly, disposable. You could have eliminated the entire character of Hannah from this movie for all the personal significance she provides for this story, and that stunned me. We don't really get insight into he beyond generic observations. She doesn't really bond with this kid in any meaningful way. She doesn't really teach this kid anything generally useful for his own safety. This is the type of relationship dynamic where the adult teaches the kid some means of defense, and then in a pivotal moment in Act Three, the child uses that technique to save themselves or the adult. It's textbook (think: Face/Off with the butterfly knife as but one example). This movie doesn't do that. In fact, once this kid hands over to Hannah the "unseen paper carrying dead dad's important information" then he also comes across as disposable. I guess he's still a witness to murder but the valuable intel seemed more pertinent to thwart. The fact that these two characters can arguably be removed from the story, either entirely or far earlier, is not a good assessment of their value added. The competing storyline with Jon Bernthal (The Punisher) is surprisingly the one that feels most attached to the events of the plot and could have been its lead vehicle. He plays Ethan, a small-town sheriff's deputy who happens to be Connor's uncle. Ethan also has a pregnant wife, Allison (Medina Senghore), and they both take up a generous amount of screen time. There's a good reason for this because they're the best part. The loving yet pointed interactions between the two of them are the best example of characterization evident in the movie. When Allison is confronted by the assassins, she's sees through their law enforcement disguise easily. When the bad men want to torture her to get key information, she manages to subdue them and escape, all while being seven months pregnant. In two short scenes, this woman proves more capable and fearless and badass than our lead character. It's easy to see a version of Those Who Wish Me Dead where the Ethan character and his drama completely cover the same narrative territory that Hannah offers. Ethan's wife is pregnant, the baby is due soon, and yet Ethan feels scared and unsure about whether he has what it takes to be a father. He comes across a young boy on the run from big trouble and protects him, and over the course of their shared experiences, he bonds and discovers paternal capabilities within himself, he teaches the kid a thing or two about defense, and he becomes more self-assured about his own personal future. Admittedly, you could say that's a simplistic character arc, but is the one presented any less simple where we watch a person haunted by trauma confront that trauma by the end? My point in this revisionary hypothetical is that this version would be more aligned with the plot elements that seem to get the most care and screen time. I know it's based on a book, but it clearly feels like Sheridan has shown what parts he cares about more so embrace those parts. It's also quite easy to identify the parts of the movie Sheridan did not care as much about. There is a surprising sloppiness to much of the setup here, where key connecting information is excluded from the viewer perhaps out of a sense of trying to be ambiguous but also perhaps out of a sense of general indifference. I was confused why the assassins blew up a house in their opening moment, what information Connor's father had stumbled upon, and even who these killers were and what their connections were with an unexpected Tyler Perry cameo where he appears to be their boss or handler or buyer or someone. The plotting can also be disappointingly redundant, as Hannah and Connor fall into a frustrating pattern of leaving the lookout tower, going back to the lookout tower, leaving the lookout tower again, repeat. Perhaps most egregiously, the raging inferno doesn't even seem to matter. How can you make a movie about a forest fire where the forest fire barely matter in the scheme of things. It exists as an immovable obstacle but more so as a means of emotional catharsis for Hannah's prior trauma. Far too often it feels like the fire is practically standing still, watching the actors from afar and not wanting to interrupt, and then at the very end, it's comically overcharged, zooming at super speeds to compensate for its earlier lazy pacing. There aren't any real specific survival scenarios tailored to the circumstances of a forest fire, which means this movie could have easily been a flood or earthquake or any disaster or none at all. Those Who Wish Me Dead reminds me of the vanishing mid-level thrillers that Hollywood used to crank out on a near weekly basis. That's probably also part of the reason it feels like a throwback to an earlier time, a time where a big star could be thrown into a disaster and given evil-doers to topple and we'd all gladly gobble it down with a heaping helping of popcorn. Perhaps that unassuming nostalgia will prove enough for some people, especially in the wake of a year of minimal big screen blockbusters. There are still moments here that feel like the Sheridan of old, but too much of this movie cannot escape the gravity of being a dull action movie without anything to say and without characters to invest in. It's not even that the movie is too simple, because simplicity can be its own virtue, but that it's underwritten, with characters that could be exorcised completely from the narrative, and a batch of villains lacking entertaining personalities or memorable menace. It's hard not to feel like everyone's talents involved were wasted somewhat on something so basic, which is even more baffling when you again recognize those fantastic story elements. Chases. From assassins. Into a forest fire. There's an obvious movie to be had there. Unfortunately, Those Who Wish Me Dead doesn't capitalize. Nate's Grade: C
    Nate Z Super Reviewer

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