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Wrath of Man


Cameron Jack, Darrell D'Silva, Jason Statham, and Babs Olusanmokun star in a scene from the movie "Wrath of Man." The Catholic News Service classification is O -- morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association rating is R -- restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian. (CNS photo/MGM)

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NEW YORK (CNS) -- Though it comes wrapped up in a slick package, the actioner "Wrath of Man" (MGM) is, in essence, a morally crude tale of do-it-yourself justice. Since it invites viewers to sympathize with its protagonist's relentless quest for revenge, moreover, the film is fundamentally at odds with scriptural values.

When taciturn Patrick Hill (Jason Statham) joins the staff of Fortico Securities, a Los Angeles-based armored car company, it's obvious to the audience, if not to his fellow employees, that he has an agenda of his own. That he has skills under fire that far exceed those he demonstrated during training, however, becomes obvious after he single-handedly slaughters the perpetrators of an ambush.

As his co-workers -- including Bullet (Holt McCallany), the apparently kindly mentor he's been assigned -- try to figure out whether to celebrate Hill's accomplishment or delve into his real identity, director and co-writer Guy Ritchie gradually fills in his backstory. This primarily involves his connection to a recent heist that cost two Fortico guards their lives.

Thus, by the time Hill has a climactic showdown with a gang of thieves made up of disgruntled Afghan War veterans led by Jackson (Jeffrey Donovan), their former commanding officer, his motivations have become clear. Such clarity doesn't, however, make them ethically acceptable.

In adapting the 2004 French thriller "Le Convoyeur," Ritchie and his screenplay collaborators, Ivan Atkinson and Marn Davies, also plays the old game of establishing incidental characters as so evil, i.e., pornographers who prey on underage girls, that they "need shooting," as the saying goes. Statham then blithely obliges.

While this contributes to a high body count, "Wrath of Man" is not as wantonly bloody as some others of its genre. The more basic problem is Hill's "I, the Jury" attitude -- and the way what mayhem he does sow is meant to resonate with movie fans' most visceral instincts.

The film contains benignly viewed vengeance and vigilantism, much gory violence, including torture, an implied casual encounter, rear nudity, considerable sexual humor, a handful of profanities, at least one milder oath as well as pervasive rough and occasional crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is O -- morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association rating is R -- restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

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Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.

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CAPSULE REVIEW

"Wrath of Man" (MGM)

When a taciturn new employee (Jason Statham) joins a Los Angeles armored car company, it's obvious to the audience, if not to his fellow employees (most prominently Holt McCallany), that he has an agenda of his own, one that eventually pits him against a gang of thieves made up of disgruntled Afghan War veterans led by their former commanding officer (Jeffrey Donovan). Though it comes wrapped up in a slick package, director and co-writer Guy Ritchie's adaptation of the 2004 French thriller "Le Convoyeur" is a morally crude tale of do-it-yourself justice. Benignly viewed vengeance and vigilantism, much gory violence, including torture, an implied casual encounter, rear nudity, considerable sexual humor, a handful of profanities, at least one milder oath, pervasive rough and occasional crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is O -- morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association rating is R -- restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

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CLASSIFICATION

"Wrath of Man" (MGM) -- Catholic News Service classification, O -- morally offensive. Motion Picture Association rating, R -- restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

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