Eleven years after her last action thriller role on the silver screen, Angelina Jolie returns to the genre in Those Who Wish Me Dead as Hannah Faber, a Smoke Jumper with the Montana State Fire Service.
Suffering from PTSD, Hannah is assigned to a fire lookout tower as she recovers. Her assignment takes a dramatic turn when she encounters a young boy running through the forest, Connor Casserly (Finn Little), who is covered in blood. Upon taking Connor in, Hannah discovers that he is on the run from two assassins and now the duo must work together to survive not only the human threat, but the wilderness itself.
Young Aussie actor, Finn Little, and Angelina Jolie are equally fantastic in their roles as Conner Casserly and Hannah Faber, respectively. Their relationship and chemistry appear natural and makes for a brilliant, dynamic and believable performance. It is clear throughout the film, especially during their action sequences, Jolie and Little have a huge amount of respect and trust for each other.
Those Who Wish Me Dead has plenty of action and ‘on-the-edge-of-your-seat’ moments, even scenes that had the audience (at my screening) literally cheering. The general premise is one that we have seen many times before, however, it is the writing and direction of Taylor Sheridan that makes this film stand out above the rest, along with its use of wildfire. Set in the Montana wilderness, there have been many films that revolve around a natural disaster, but nothing like what I saw in Those Who Wish Me Dead.
The cinematography and the effects used to create the dangerous and intimidating burning environment, it was almost as if the wildfire was a character of its own, and one that is both an ally and enemy to our characters. In a recent interview, Finn Little discussed that parts of the wildfire footage are real. The production had built a forest up in the desert purposefully to set on fire, creating a unique atmosphere and real danger on set, which comes through fantastically and vividly on the big screen. From the long sweeping shots of the wilderness to the up-close intimate moments between Jolie and Little, cinematographer Ben Richardson captures every scene perfectly. I also cannot even begin to think of the challenges that are presented when ‘playing with fire’ and the whole production team executed Sheridan’s vision flawlessly.
There is much to love about Those Who Wish Me Dead; the impressive performances by its cast, the screenwriting and direction… this film is a death-defying realistic thriller that will remind you of the frightening life-risking challenges that firefighters and emergency services deal with every day. Both Angelina Jolie and Finn Little shine in this action flick that will have you on the edge of your seat, clutch your popcorn and is an absolute must-see on the big screen. So, what are you waiting for? I implore you to go to your local cinema and strap yourself in for an exhilarating experience that only Angelina Jolie can bring to the silver screen.
Those Who Wish Me Dead is in Australian cinemas now.