Angelina Jolie Is Still A Star, And “Those Who Wish Me Dead” Is Proof

After a decade of starring in family friendly studio flicks, focusing on her children and going through an unexpectedly messy divorce, Angelina Jolie is back in her element as an action heroine in Taylor Sheridan’s new feature, Those Who Wish Me Dead. Rather than being the Raquel Welch of her generation, Jolie has proven she not only has genuine star quality and sex appeal, but also talent and memorability.


Though she was praised and awarded for her performances in Michael Cristofer’s Gia (1998) and James Mangold’s Girl, Interrupted (1999), the superstar successfully chose to be one of the most profitable action leads of the 2000s, including as the face of the original big-screen Lara Croft. Now, all these years later after settling down and taking a break from the spotlight, does Jolie still have it to carry a film all on her own?

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In the Montana wilderness, Hannah Faber (Jolie) is a veteran firefighter who is still suffering from PTSD and guilt from a wrong call she made during an emergency fire run years ago. At the same time, adolescent Conner Casserly (Finn Little) is suddenly all alone and on the run from deadly father and son assassins — Jack and Patrick Blackwell (Aidan Gillen and Nicholas Hoult) — who killed Conner’s father. When Hannah and Conner cross paths in Hannah’s usual forest, it’s up to them to escape the villains and prevent more victims, such as Hannah’s ex, Sherriff Ethan Sawyer (Jon Bernthal), from harm.

One complaint I remember seeing online when the trailer for Those Who Wish Me Dead first dropped was that it looked like it strayed a lot from Michael Koryta’s 2014 novel with the same title. As someone who hasn’t read the book, I can’t confirm or deny this; but as a viewer new to the tale, it was a bit of a mix for me. Fans of Sheridan’s previous work like Sicario (2015), Hell or High Water (2016) or “Yellowstone” (2018-) will be familiar with how gruesome and graphic the director is with violence. I enjoyed his Wind River (2017) quite a lot, but this time around I found the gore and violence particularly ruthless; and unpleasantly so, with many of the brutal deaths of innocent people warranting the movie’s R rating. Gillen and Hoult both have experience as intimidating bad guys and they’re just as ace with unsettling viewers here.

But in general, I felt Wish Me Dead was a little basic by Sheridan’s standards and seemed almost like he made the picture to end a contractual obligation or something similar. There are impressive action sequences, but the writing is pretty pedestrian and leaves a bit to be desired.

The things that hold Those Who Wish Me Dead from being boring, though, are the scenes between Jolie and Little. Jolie reminds us that she can effortlessly carry a movie on her own and light up the whole screen. She isn’t given much to do besides kick butt and save the kid, but she gives it 100%. It’s easy to see why she chooses blockbusters with a lot of stunts and choreography, because it looks like she’s having a blast. Little is a fine young actor who had a good enough fake accent to fool me into thinking he really was from Montana and not his native Australia.

Those Who Wish Me Dead is one of those just okay movies perfect for casual streaming (now on HBO Max); and in an era where anyone virally famous can be a celebrity, it’s nice to see traditional movie stars still doing their thing.


Are you an Angelina Jolie fan? Do you think her new movie is one to watch? Let us know in the comments!

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