Writer William Goldman (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, All the President’s Men, The Princess Bride, Misery) adapted the screenplay for Wild Card from his own novel. It is directed by Simon West (Con Air, The General’s Daughter, The Mechanic, The Expendables II) and stars Jason Statham. So, y’know, some heavyweights involved in this movie. And the tale is one we have seen before: of a capable man with a mysterious past who seems to be known to everybody in Las Vegas.
Las Vegas, that’s where this movie is set, and it isn’t even the pretty part of Vegas. This is a tale about people that go out in the daytime, live their lives in parts of the city that are away from the grime-hiding pretty lights. For some of them there are things to do besides gamble–just they are not very pretty things. Or fun. Unless you are ‘The Fighter’ (Milo Ventimiglia). The Fighter is a mobbed up young man who travels with two hulking bodyguards and thinks it is totally okay to use and (physically) abuse a girl named Holly (Dominik García-Lorido).
This is just one of the places where Nick Wild (Statham) comes in. You see, Nick is a man about Vegas town who provides protection services to those who feel like they need them, and he tells himself that he is only in town until he makes enough money (500,000 dollars in his case) to leave that Gamblers’ Paradise for good. Holly asks Nick to help and though he knows it is a bad idea, he also knows he won’t say no. Once he gets involved he needs that big money in a hurry to facilitate a quick getaway.
The action scenes–though they aren’t plentiful–are choreographed to convey exactly how effective a fighting machine Nick Wild is. The use of slow motion and clever camera angles delivers the power of these sequences in a very satisfying manner. And there is one tense sequence in which Holly gets to face her attacker that is totally worth the price of admission. The cast–that also comprises Anne Heche, Hope Davis, Stanley Tucci, Sofia Vergara, Jason Alexander and Michael Angarano–is largely window dressing. This is Mr. Statham’s show, and every time he gets going it is a pleasure to watch.
Final Analysis: This is the kind of slow burn action/crime movie I like watching. It isn’t particularly heavy. It doesn’t play out like an ‘important’ movie as a lot of Scorsese’s crime pictures do, but it has just enough action and tense sequences to make the 90-something minutes go by pleasantly.
My Advice: Check it out if you’re in the mood for a cool little crime flick this weekend.