Saturday, April 11, 2015

Time-waster worth watching: WILD CARD -- West & Goldman's ode to addiction & justice

The first thing you may notice about WILD CARD is how leisurely it rolls along, especially considering that it stars Jason Statham in another of his many action-hero roles. Never uninteresting -- not for a moment -- the movie still ambles and zig-zags blithely on its way, stopping now and again for one those expected action set-pieces, each of which is very nicely done, though no more or less believable than any other action-heroics of recent times. Yet the movie works pleasantly and smartly enough to qualify as decent entertainment, thanks mostly to Statham's grace in both action (below) and repose (at bottom: he's quieter and more thoughtful here than I've seen him in some time) and to a more unusual screenplay than we are used to getting in this genre, by a fellow named William Goldman.

Mr. Goldman, a rather famous screenwriter (Butch Cassidy..., The Princess Bride and author of that immortal line about the industry, "Nobody knows anything"), has here written a journeyman screenplay filled with interesting characters and situations that wax and wane with a different rhythm than usual for this genre and allow for some good actors to register strongly in a bunch of nearly-throw-away roles.

These would include the likes of Hope Davis (below, as a casino dealer); Jason Alexander (above), as a helpful friend;

Anne Heche, below, right, as a friendly waitress (Ms Heche gets two scenes in the film);

Stanley Tucci (below, in a terrific hairpiece), as a casino owner (of possibly gay predilection) called Baby;

and a interesting young actress named Dominik Garcia-Lorrido (below, who spends most of the film looking very beaten-up and who, according to the IMDB, turns out to be the daughter of Andy Garcia) in the pivotal role of an abused prostitute who wants vengeance.

Directed professionally and economically by Simon West, the film's plot takes in themes of addiction, con games, justice, and finding oneself -- and if it does not deepen these to any extent, it at least gives them a decent hearing, while providing a nice forum for Statham's abilities as action star and actor-in-progress.

That's Sofia Vergara, above, looking as beautiful as ever, but this time in a role in which she seems sweeter than usual. (Most of these actors have but a single scene, yet, together they register as an enjoyable group.)

Also in the starry cast is Michael Angarano (above) as a young man who hires the Statham character as a protector/guide, and as usual Angarano proves equal to the task while adding extra interest to the proceedings.

No great shakes, of course, and yet, while been-there-done-that would seem to hang over this movie, by the end, it has become something a little different -- and pleasantly welcome. Wild Card, from Lionsgate and run-ning 92 minutes, is out now on Blu-ray, DVD, VOD and digital platforms.

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