Director: Simon West | 92 minutes | action, crime, drama, thriller | Actors: Jason Statham, Michael Angarano, Dominik García-Lorido, Hope Davis, Milo Ventimiglia, Max Casella, Stanley Tucci, Jason Alexander, Sofía Vergara, Anne Heche, François Vincentelli, Chris Browning, Matthew Willig, Davenia McFadden, Michael Papajohn, Jean Claude Leuyer
Las Vegas. The city of ringing slots and flashing neon lights, where fortunes are won and lost. Familiar territory for movie buffs, but “Wild Card” shows you a different side of Las Vegas. Director Simon West takes you away from the Strip and takes you to tents that have seen better days. The cheap motels, the dingy cafes and the casinos where tourists do not come. They are the work area of Nick Wild (action hero Jason Statham), a gambler who makes a living doing odd jobs. For example, he lets himself be beat up – for a fee – by civilian men who want to impress their girlfriend. Nick does not get rich, but it does satisfy him.
One day two new jobs present themselves. A rich man hires him as a bodyguard and a friend asks him for a favor. She was raped in an expensive hotel and hopes Nick can track down the culprits. Small effort for someone with connections, but it does get our fighter boss in trouble. The men are in the service of Baby (Stanley Tucci), a local top criminal. Before he knows it, Nick is no longer sure of his life and drags the rich youngster into misery. And then he is also in a personal crisis. Nick is desperate to get out of Las Vegas, but the city keeps sucking him back.
“Wild Card” is a remake of the 1986 action movie “Heat”. For Statham it was undoubtedly a pleasant snack. Normally the brawling Cockney grunts alone, in “Wild Card” he gets to stave off real dialogue, full of depth and inner conflict. The question is whether this approach works. The answer: on the one hand yes, on the other not. The characters are surprising, but the focus on character development takes the momentum out of the film. Those who hope for spectacle will only get a handful of fight scenes. In addition, Statham is better at growling than acting. “Wild Card” scores points for going off the beaten track, but it’s too messy to work as a drama and too wacky to work as an action movie. A pity, because the intentions were good.