After writing 'Sicario' in 2015, Taylor Sheridan quickly became one of the most exciting new talents in Hollywood. Followed by 'Hell or High Water' in 2016 and 2017's 'Wind River', which he also directed, he was - and still is - a standout in the film industry. While he recently stepped away from film, co-creating the Kevin Costner drama 'Yellowstone', audiences have been eagerly awaiting his return to the big screen. 'Those Who Wish Me Dead' is not only his first cinematic work in four years, but also serves as the relaunch of Angelina Jolie's acting career.
After a terrible wildfire, fire fighter Hannah (Jolie, 'Kung Fu Panda 3', 'Maleficent: Mistress of Evil') is still processing the events from almost a year ago, along with the other firefighters. She is relocated to a lookout tower by local sheriff Ethan Sawyer (Jon Bernthal, 'Ford v Ferrari', 'Baby Driver') where she crosses paths with Connor (Finn Little), a young boy whose dad (Jack Weber, 'Midway', 'White House Down') has discovered shattering information that puts a bounty on not only his head, but that of everyone who comes in contact with him. Jack (Aidan Gillen, 'Bohemian Rhapsody', 'Maze Runner: The Death Cure') and Patrick (Nicholas Hoult, 'The Favourite', 'X-Men: Dark Phoenix') are tasked with tracking down Connor and his dad to eliminate him before his discovery leaks. But a fire has also ignited, adding a whole other threat to the situation.
'Those Who Wish Me Dead's' biggest problem is the plot; it's just so dense. Act 1 is so long because so many pieces have to line up for everyone to be where they need them to be. It, therefore, takes a long time before we get to Hannah and Connor meeting, and the script also feels the need to dedicate a lot of time to the bounty hunters as well. When we finally get to the meat of the story, the film is extremely entertaining, but the setup could easily have been condensed to make this another surefire hit from Sheridan. This is a simple film to describe when someone asks what it's about, and streamlining its convoluted plot would have helped.
Outside of the narrative the acting is a return to form for most of the cast especially Jolie. 'Those Who Wish Me Dead' feels like a big welcome back to acting for the Academy Award winner.
Outside of the narrative, the acting is a return to form for most of the cast, but especially Jolie. After the mess that was 'The Tourist' she really jumped off the acting map as that film and her personal life and charity work took their toll. While she did 'Maleficent' and directed 'Unbroken', those seemed more like projects to stay relevant. 'Those Who Wish Me Dead' feels like a big welcome back to acting for the Academy Award winner. Finn Little also shines in what easily could have gone awry if the wrong child were cast.
'Those Who Wish Me Dead' may not be Sheridan's strongest outing and could have used a tighter screenplay, but makes up for this with its captivating third act and more than overdue acting return for Jolie.