Odds are you are going to fail if you stay in the movie industry long enough. Very rarely do filmmakers or actors stay consistent especially if their beginnings start at the top. While it does not negate the good that came before it certainly feels depressing to see a legend humiliate him or herself. While you aren’t seeing the writer of Wild Card, William Goldman, on screen kicking butt you start to realize how out of touch he has become. A man who has written some of the greatest films of all time, such as All The President’s Men and The Princess Bride, should not be capable of giving us such a bland movie.
Wild Card follows Nick Wild (Jason Statham), a freelance bodyguard in Las Vegas who works odd jobs and hates living in the city. Considering how Director Simon West makes the city look, with muted colors and a greyish palette, it’s not hard to see why he wants to leave. The problem we find right away is that William Goldman is not sure what kind of movie this is. On one hand we see Wild involved with the mob by helping a friend get revenge and the other is a character study of a man with a gambling issue. Both plots are loosely connected at best and it gets frustrating when we stay with either for long periods of time. It is as if Goldman was initially writing a plot for a television series and had to cram an entire season in ninety minutes.
Actually calling this a failed pilot is apt considering all the backstory Goldman puts in. We hear so much about Wild’s previous exploits and see the characters that populate his life that you start to imagine better premises for this movie. This movie has so many good actors in side roles that go absolutely nowhere. Solid people like Hope Davis, Stanley Tucci, and Anne Heche has so much implied backstory and chemistry with Statham but it ultimately comes to nothing. This feels like one of those films where people must have had favors with someone involved with the production and because of that we get nothing but teases of what might have been.
It cannot be stressed enough that this film was written by a two-time Oscar winning writer. William Goldman turns into full-on machismo action writer as we get endless tough talk from Mafioso to casino dealers. It does not help that Goldman gives every character endless speeches to try and impress but it comes off as ‘Bad Film Writing 101’. At least Statham is able to provide his charming self as a no-nonsense bruiser who can elevate some of the “quips” provided. In fact for a Statham movie it is very light on action and he is able to showcase more of his acting chops as a gambling addict despite being an issue for only one sequence. The action we do get is more than adequately directed by Simon West and will wake you up between the periods of endless monologues.
If you were watching William Goldman written films in the 1970s and 80s you would never expect he would hit rock bottom. Watching Wild Card though it feels as though he is gunning for a paycheck rather than anything meaningful. Despite some decent action scenes this is a generic and boring action film that is written too clumsily to even be remotely entertaining. If you have to get your Statham fix it would be easier to wait until specific scenes are (inevitably) ripped onto the internet. As for Mr. Goldman; considering his last three films are this, Dreamcatcher, and Hearts in Atlantis it is safe to assume he should retire before damaging his reputation further.