“Those Who Wish Me Dead” is not your typical action-packed thriller. Rather it is a visually stunning wilderness adventure plagued by the ongoing threat of US national forest fire incidents. A plot that had little to no meaning was somehow genuinely fascinating as Angelina Jolie’s character fights several assassins for the life of a child she only met that day.
Given forest fire outbreaks have been an alarming issue, frightening millions of citizens around the country within the past decade, it was only a matter of time before the subject was brought to the big screen. However, I did not predict it would be in the form of an assassin-based action movie. Nonetheless, the film still manages to bring depth and complexity to the trauma that forest fires leave on their victims through the clever use of Jolie’s character, Hannah Faber.
The film revolves around Hannah Faber (Angelina Jolie), a firefighter emotionally struggling from the aftermath of a rescue gone wrong resulting in the death of three young children. As she is slowly recovering, she crosses paths with an endangered kid wanted by two lethal assassins. Together they fight their way to safety, with a massive forest fire becoming their real antagonist.
When addressing the issue of forest fires within a film whose plot is quite literally tone-deaf to the subject, there needs to be some room for actual thought and understanding. “Those Who Wish Me Dead” eloquently does this by allowing Hannah to grieve over the forest fire rescue gone wrong. By focusing on Hannah’s mental health, the movie was able to connect with audiences on an emotional level. This allowed viewers the ability to not only root for the characters, but to also actually identify sensitivity behind the concept of placing forest fires in an action movie.
Although the assassins seem to be a very frightening threat within the plot, the film centralizes the forest fire as the main villain. One particular sequence in the movie felt dreamlike as Hannah and Connor (Finn Little) navigate their way through the fire as it rapidly consumes everything in its path. The hellish environment made for one of the most staggering experiences I have seen in recent films.
What truly pulls this entire movie together is the ensemble supporting cast beside Jolie. Nicholas Hoult and Aidan Gillen are cast as the two assassins giving some of the most subtle yet frightening performances of the film. I also found Jolie’s performance to be very empathic, truly making me feel for her as she struggled with her grip on reality.
In a day and age where action films are released every single week, new outtakes on the genre are always refreshing to witness. “Those Who Wish Me Dead” provides viewers with an edge-of-your-seat thriller that pays homage to firefighters combating forest fires, making it a truly unique experience for viewers across the country
“Those Who Wish Me Dead” can be found on HBO Max.