HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: I Am Wrath
HTS Overall Score:64
When I first saw the trailer for “I Am Wrath” I was actually rather intrigued. I’m a huge fan of the revenge subgenre of films, like “Taken”, “John Wick” etc. They’re a blast and it’s been a long while since John Travolta had graced the screen as one of these characters. His last cool role happened to have been the highly underrated “From Paris With Love” before he started to run around with hair plugs or a wig to make him look younger (painful wig/hair plugs too, as it’s OBVIOUS that he’s wearing one now). Sadly “I Am Wrath” is not some return to form for Travolta, and while he is fairly competent in the role of the cold ex killer turning back to his old ways, the script and poor direction fail him quite badly. What could have been a cool revenge flick ended up being a boring exercise in copying “John Wick” without any of the things that made “John Wick” good.
John Travolta is Stanley Hill, a down and out unemployed man who has just gotten back from a trip when his wife is murdered for her purse while he’s beaten nearly unconscious. Waking up from his little nap Stanley is filled with rage. What was once his has been taken from him and he’s not about to take this lying down. Well, we all know how this is going to go. Stanley turns out to have a few secrets in his past as he smashes out a hidden wall in his home and pulls out a chest full of weapons. Yup, you guessed it. He was a black ops type of guy and has a long history of taking down scum bags. Asking for the help of his friend and ex-partner, Dennis (Christopher Melonie), Stanley starts tearing the town apart looking for the three men who murdered his wife.
Thing this is, it’s not as simple as just a couple of thugs. The more that Stanley pulls at the threads, the more comes to light and he will not like what he finds. Along the way he has to contend with thugs, crooked cops and even more crooked higher ups in a scheme that very well may just be his biggest bust yet. That is, if he can make it out alive.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=75057[/img]Whoo boy. Well, for a movie that touts itself as a “John Wick” knockoff and titled “I Am Wrath”, there was actually very little wrath in film. The first 55 minutes are just Stanley and Dennis figuring things out and popping a single thug in a tattoo parlor (where he gets an “I Am Wrath” tattoo and stands up for the audience to see it in slow motion). It isn’t till the hour mark (ish) that we actually get to see Stanley and Dennis kicking butt and taking names, and even that ends up being fairly amateurish as Director Chuck Russell is obsessed with cool slow motion shots EVERYWHERE. Even places that slow motion isn’t remotely suited for. I actually kind of laughed when they’re in the night club and we see Stanley and Dennis starting then stopping in a slow motion montage that made zero sense.
Then couple in a nice pancake sized stack of bad acting. Travolta is actually not half bad, though. The last few movies he’s slept walked his way through them like he’s been on a high dose of pain killers, but here he actually puts a bit of a heart into the character. It’s not his normal over the top persona, but still pretty enjoyable. It’s the REST of the cast that really doesn’t work. Besides Dennis, everyone else just feels cheap and disposable in their acting abilities, with thugs spouting off horrible dialog and even Amanda Schull (best known for her role in the TV show “12 Monkeys”) having some wince worthy lines.
Rated R for Violence and Some Language
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=75033[/img]“I am Wrath” has a fairly solid, but very standard looking 2.40:1 AVC encoding for us today. Given that this is a low budget action film I wasn’t expecting a whole lot, but the simple digital is quite pleasing (if not a little eye catching at times). The film is very grim and bleak, with very few bright shiny colors (besides the fateful trip to the night club to catch Charlie) and instead tends to be saturated with lots of blues and greys throughout. Fine detail impressive, despite the flat looking picture, and shows off enough intimate details to earn itself a nice thumbs up. Blacks are usually good with strong shadow detail, but it does have the curse of having plenty of banding to mar it up just a little.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=75041[/img]The 5.1 DTS-HD MA track is very similar to the video encode. Rather bleak and flat. Dialog is never a problem, and seems well balanced with the rest of the track, but the rest of the track is just a bit flat and uneventful. For an action film, the experience is surprisingly front heavy, with that first hour of non-action rather bland and dull. Even when the action starts up there isn’t a whole lot of pizazz and boom to the experience. Gunshots pop pop instead of go bang bang (highly technical terms there) and the surrounds only get a modicum of activity which leaves the whole experience feeling very “meh”. It’s decently mixed and decently delivered without any major audio artifacts, but sadly that sense of immersion and throbbing action is absent.
• Audio Commentary with Director Chuck Russell and Screenwriter/Actor Paul Sloan
I really wanted to like “I am Wrath” in some way. I like Travolta, I like revenge stories with lots of guns and big bad men, and I don’t mind DTV movies if done right. Sadly this is NOT a DTV movie done right. Instead it’s just the same tired old schlock that we’ve seen Bruce Willis churn out the last few years (just with better acting, as Willis seems to have gone completely comatose in his roles) and I ended up looking at the clock way more often than I was hoping for. The audio and video are solid entries into the DTV world of home video and while there is only one extra, it DOES happen to be a fairly substantial commentary by the director. Personally, I’d just skip it, but I ended up feeling very ambivalent towards the film anyway, so “meh”.
Starring: John Travolta, Amanda Schull, Paul Meloni
Directed by: Chuck Russell
Written by: Yvan Gauther, Paul Sloan
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1
Runtime: 91 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: July 26th, 2016
Buy I Am Wrath On Blu-ray at Amazon
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