A Las Vegas bodyguard with lethal skills gets in trouble with the mob when he helps a young female friend who was left for dead.
Based on the 1985 novel Heat (Edged Weapons in the UK) by William Goldman and the remake of Burt Reynolds' Heat (1986) there's a fast car, periodic fight scenes, a mild mannered moralist character, Jason Statham must check them off and sign on the dotted line. And that's not a bad thing Statham in the most typecast of role, rarely, if ever fails to deliver.
Simon West's Wild Card is finely shot, it plays as an anti Revolver (2005), it's linear, his Vegas is musty, hazy and dusty. The setting feels real and written intentionally or not what it lacks in pacing structure and credible fleshed out supporting character relationships it makes up for with Statham's charisma and hand to hand action setups.
Part revenge, part self realisation film, its reminiscent of The Gambler (1974), Payback (1998)/Point Blank (1967), Get Carter (1971 and 2000 remake) to name a few. West offers a series of exceptionally well choreographed hard hitting, bone breaking, wince enduring scenes, which Statham effortlessly pulls off with a smidgen of drama. The action is raw, not dissimilar to the stylish John Wick (2014), and Wild avoids using guns mirroring Denzel Washington's McCall in The Equalizer (2014).
To Statham's (who also produced) credit you do root for the gambling Nick Wild, and you can't help feel he may windup like Carlito's (1993) Brigante or London Boulevard's (2010) Mitchel by the end. It's a pity it chose the action, cutlery stabbing route and you can't help feel that some of the more dramatic scenes were left on the cutting floor despite Statham showing some great range.
The action is more raw than the stylish John Wick (2014), and Wild doesn't like to use guns like Denzel Washington's The Equalizer (2014). Both Milo Ventimiglia and Michael Angarano while entertaining look a little uncomfortable age wise in their respective roles. The supporting cast are mostly extended cameos from the likes of Anne Heche, Sofía Vergara and Stanley Tucci who notably steals the show as mob boss mediator Baby.
Digressing slightly, thanks to Bruce Willis taking pay cheques for small cameo roles it's left a gap in the market for well loved but still under appreciated Jason Statham who, endless Transporter roles aside, has offered some decent performances in the West's own Mechanic, Killing Elite, Revolver, spring to mind.
The production values are high. it goes beyond the out of the box action film in terms of look thanks to Shelly Johnson's cinematography and West's keen eye for detail giving him a knack for creating atmosphere.
Statham puts in an immense physical performance. It's a solid action film, and quiet restrained, no big explosions, with minimum gun-play, it focus its on physical altercations. And for these reasons recommend.