The first thing that really stood out to me was the title. Those Who Wish Me Dead. Which as of right now I’m realizing isn’t Those Who WANT Me Dead.
Seeing as this takes place mostly in a fire watch tower or at least involving fire in some way, you’d think they’d have “fire” in the title. Like the 90’s action film Firestorm.
It makes sense that is directly where my mind would go, seeing as this movie felt right out of something we’d get from 1996.
It just has that kind of dated action movie feel to it, like a generic Die Hard knockoff we got plenty of after Die Hard 3 or really any Die Hard movie. For me, I just started noticing them more after the third film.
To the film’s credit, this is less of a Die Hard knockoff than I was expecting.
However this film has several issues with it that I found distracting.
The first distraction was the fact Angelina Jolie’s character Hannah isn’t our main character. Correction, she is, she doesn’t feel like our main character.
Our real main character is played by Jon Bernthal as our deputy sheriff character named Ethan. Not only is his character more likable, seems to have more screen time, but is also related to our child character who is in peril.
Hannah has absolutely no connection to this story whatsoever other than right place, right time.
She’s kind of just there in the story. Of course they try to give us this tragic backstory, classic Cliffhanger type stuff, where Stallone feels responsible for letting someone die.
And this trauma is holding her back, which she now needs to fight through to save the day… 90’s action movie stuff.
When the movie starts off, we are introduced to her and her team of firefighters or smokejumpers as they are called. Don’t get too attached to the guys in her team as we literally never see them again after this scene.
This is also where we are introduced to Ethan, who warns Hannah not to act like a fool this year, playing a dangerous game where you open up a parachute while standing in the back of a pickup truck.
Yeah, if you guessed this movie has a country music soundtrack, you’d guess right.
A while back, Hannah misjudged where the wind was taking a forest fire and trapped her team, not to mention a group of kids, endangering her crew but I guess killing the kids.
Ever since then, she has PTSD, and has been assigned to tower duty, where she just sits in a watch tower, looking out for any small fires that can become large fires.
The real main character of the movie is Ethan, our deputy sheriff who has a pregnant wife back home, about to pop.
His deceased sister was married to an accountant named Owen who has a 10 year old son named Connor.
I know kid actors are usually pretty bad and this one is no exception. His character was also kind of a dickhead for no real reason, which made every scene with him hard to watch. A major flaw when the plot centers around him.
At one point there’s a wall of fire, and the kid pitches a fit when Hannah, Angelina Jolie’s character, tells him they need to turn back.
No! I wanna go through the fire!
Let him burn, I say.
Honestly, I would have just given him over to the hitmen that are after him, just to save myself the headache.
Hitmen… So Connor’s accountant dad Owen finds… something. And now what I think are government sent assassins are taking out people left and right to silence them.
They never tell you what he found, who he found what on and who is after him. You do later meet the one spearheading all this played by I’m pretty sure was Tyler Perry. It’s one scene and we never hear from him again afterwards, much like Hannah’s firefighter crew.
The person Owen went to with whatever it was he found turns up dead on the news, so now he suspects he is next. Fearing for his life, he takes Connor to visit his uncle Ethan, a deputy sheriff.
Along the way however, they get ambushed on the road, Owen getting shot and killed, driving the car off a hill.
Connor survives unfortunately, making a run for it in the forest where he eventually bumps into Hannah.
Hannah takes the kid back to her watch tower, but the communications on her tower was struck by lightning, so there’s no way to call for help.
Their only option is to hike through the forest into town.
Knowing Connor is still alive and wandering out in the forest the two hitmen who I believe are brothers named Jack and Patrick, set a small fire using flares.
Of course this small fire eventually rolls into a raging fire, spreading everywhere.
Seeing the roaring fire in the distance, Hannah and Connor head back to the watch tower, knowing that since she didn’t call it in, they most likely will send in a chopper to check on her.
Meanwhile, back to our actual main character Ethan, his pregnant wife Allison gets a visit from these two hitmen suspecting that the kid made it to his uncle in time, which he hasn’t.
But the hitmen don’t know that, so to be sure, they plan on doing something with a fire poker to find out.
I will say one good thing about this movie is the action. If you’re going to make a 90’s action movie, you better make damn sure your action scenes are exciting and fun.
They do manage to pull that key piece together, bringing us some pretty fun action moments.
The two hitmen Jack and Patrick are also fun protagonists as they are pretty coldhearted and methodical.
But one pregnant lady does prove to be too much for them, as she not only manages to get away, but severally burns Jack’s face with bear spray, turning it into a blowtorch.
Ethan comes home, but is taken hostage by the hitmen, needing him alive to help track the kid.
They find footprints by the car accident that left Connor’s dad dead. The trail leads them to the watch tower.
Fearing there could be a person armed in the tower and with no real defensible advantage, they force Ethan to check things out. If the kid is in there, bring him out. If he isn’t, set the tower on fire.
Patrick is a skilled sniper, so he climbs up a tree to get a better vantage point, looking into the tower with his rifle scope.
He notices Ethan just standing around, quickly realizing he’s talking to someone and shoots up the place.
Ethan takes a bullet in the chest.
Hannah and Connor escape with the hitmen hot on their trail, not to mention the forest fire now at their front door.
Ethan’s pregnant wife Allison shows up with her own rifle, taking out Jack. She checks on Ethan who is at death’s door, hoping he can hold on until the rescue team arrives, they wait out the incoming fire.
Hannah on the other hand is fighting Patrick, with the help of Connor they manage to get the better of him, knocking him into the fire.
Soon morning comes and the rescue team arrives, Ethan didn’t make it, succumbing to his gunshot wound.
Hannah and Connor on the other hand, yeah they’re fine.
Then the movie just kind of ends. We never find out what happens to whoever Tyler Perry’s character was. We never find out what Owen, Connor’s dad wrote in his final confession note before his death. We don’t even know what will happen to Connor since all his family is pretty much dead now.
Angelina Jolie felt sidelined in her own movie, even though she survives in the end. The issue for me is, it requires you actually give a damn about her “issues”. Which I don’t.
She acts out irresponsibly at times, like the parachute off a truck thing, and maybe we get a few scenes of her staring off into the distance, remember the kids she maybe got killed… but aside from that, I don’t really know what she’s trying to overcome or how helping Connor does that.
Yes, there’s a fire, but I really don’t see the parallels here. And then by the end of it, her PTSD seems magically cured.
Again, I just didn’t care, where as Ethan is a much more interesting character. It also doesn’t hurt that I’m a nerd for Jon Bernthal, AKA the best damn Punisher to ever take up the role.
I also didn’t see the point in him dying in the end of this movie. And the way it was handled sucked too. There has to be an alternate take of him surviving.
The film did have some good moments of action, which is the only thing that really kept me interested throughout. Whenever things started to get too boring, usually something exciting would happen, be it getting struck by lightning or a giant shootout.
For that alone, I will give this a RENT rating. The film itself is very mediocre and generic, but if you’re looking for something to enjoy but forget about after the short 90 minute runtime, this is the movie for you.
Next review is Army of the Dead. I’m looking forward to this one, I got my fingers crossed it’s going to be good!
Zack Snyder has won some brownie points with me after his cut of Justice League, let’s see if he can keep it up.
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