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Cinematic Releases: Those Who Wish Me Dead (2021) - Reviewed

Posted By themoviesleuth 1100 days ago on Entertainment -  After his sleeper hit directorial debut Wind River alongside an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay with Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan has proven himself to be at the forefront of a new emergence of neo-western moviemakers.  His latest effort Those Who Wish Me Dead, released simultaneously in theaters and HBO Max, continues in that genre but moves the setting deeper into woodsy terrain, making for a tense, predictable but nonetheless satisfying action suspense vehicle.   Based on the novel by Michael Kortya co-written for the screen by Kortya and producer-director Sheridan, the film follows in the footsteps of Peter Weir’s Witness involving a child who witnesses a murder before going on the run from two assassins who hunt for him in the Montana mountains.  On his feet he runs into a smokejumper named Hannah Faber (Angelina Jolie) who takes the boy under her protective wing but not before the boy’s hunters turn up the heat, literally, and it becomes a survivalist thriller. An earthy contemporary western thriller which begins in suburban terrain before moving into the Montana mountains, Those Who Wish Me Dead is a solid meat-and-potatoes programmer with Jolie as an always strong central heroic lead, a gifted performance from child actor Finn Little and Jon Bernthal as an always welcome presence as the town Sheriff who smells trouble well before the smoke and flames start to erupt into a full blown conflagration.   Visually speaking the film is chock full of breathtaking mountainous vistas interspersed with forest evergreens before entering an orangey, firey glow as the film’s third act kicks into high gear.  Sonically the film reunites Sheridan with Yellowstone composer Brian Tyler who serves up a tense suspenseful score with familiar but still effective notes.   Taylor Sheridan’s new roughneck hard-boiled neo-western, like many new releases this year, was completed in 2019 only to be delayed by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic before going out in theaters and on streaming simultaneously.  In the realm of contemporary western thrillers with a somewhat more violent edge to them, Those Who Wish Me Dead comes on the heels of such tense recently-released westerns as Let Him Go and News of the World as a solid unpretentious modestly sized programmer.  Though none of the three films reinvent the wheel, they as westerns continue to advance the possibilities of the genre in exciting and always entertainingly new ways.  Some critics have complained Jolie is underutilized in the piece but for my money she gives us another solid female-driven action thriller with a universally appealing premise and a director with a clear new look upon the tense, often frightening battles fought out on the new wide open west.--Andrew Kotwicki (function() { var zergnet = document.createElement('script'); zergnet.type = 'text/javascript'; zergnet.async = true; zergnet.src = (document.location.protocol == "https:" ? "https:" : "http:") + '//'; var znscr = document.getElementsByTagName('script')[0]; znscr.parentNode.insertBefore(zergnet, znscr); })();

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