Nick Wild is a Las Vegas bodyguard with lethal professional skills and a personal gambling problem. When a friend is beaten by a sadistic thug, Nick strikes back, only to find out the thug is the son of a powerful mob boss. Suddenly Nick is plunged into the criminal underworld, chased by enforcers and wanted by the mob. Havin...more
Nick Wild is a Las Vegas bodyguard with lethal professional skills and a personal gambling problem. When a friend is beaten by a sadistic thug, Nick strikes back, only to find out the thug is the son of a powerful mob boss. Suddenly Nick is plunged into the criminal underworld, chased by enforcers and wanted by the mob. Having raised the stakes, Nick has one last play to change his fortunes…and this time, it’s all or nothing. less
The second adaptation of William Goldman’s novel “Heat” after the 1986 debacle, Simon West’s “Wild Card” is set in the Casino-packed Las Vegas where Nick Wild (Jason Statham,) a semi-retired criminal with a heart of gold who does small time jobs and dreams of leaving the gangland for good, packing off to Corsica. The film portrays Vegas not as a shiny, upbeat party place but as a seedy, gloomy place. In the initial portions, the dimly lit, desaturated images lend the film a certain intrigue as Statham portrays a character that’s the exact opposite of his badass image: in the opening scene, he gets beaten up by a rather ordinary looking guy; and he’s struggling with his gambling habit. He gets involved in two story arcs. His hooker friend Holly is raped by the unruly son of a powerful mob boss, and she asks Nick to help her exact revenge. He’s reluctant at first, being aware of the muscle the perpetrator Danny DeMarco holds (another trait atypical to the badass he’s known as), but eventually agrees. When the job is accomplished, Holly leaves the city; but DeMarco plans to come after Nick. Nick is also approached by a young millionaire to help him “overcome his fears”. Nick initially doesn’t take the boy seriously, but their relationship develops into a predictable bromance. The movie seems unsure of what it wants to be. In keeping with the subdued world that it creates, the film tries to be a modern noir with complex characters and moral ambiguities. But none of the characters, including Nick and Holly, are given any personality to make us care for their quests. The movie goes on with its self-serious mumbo-jumbo for far too long, and although the style matches that of the films of Michael Mann and Jean-Pierre Melville, there’s little substance to give the film any dramatic weight. There are a sum total of three action sequences in the movie, that are shot in routine slow-motion and are incoherently put together. Some of the film’s choices are interesting, like the fleeting, elliptical editing and inspired choice of music to underscore the action: whereas generic action films bear bombastic soundtracks to make the action seem more urgent, “Wild Card” uses soft-rock and smooth, elegant pop numbers which act as ironical counterpoints to what’s happening on screen – a technique often used by Martin Scorsese in his own gangster films. The scene where Holly tries to convince Nick to take up the job is intercut with extreme close ups of the sweater she’s sewing, and although it doesn’t make much sense, it makes for a stylish sequence to at least sit through. But much like everything else in the movie, the devices are used for the heck of it. “Wild Card” could have either been a hard-boiled genre piece, but director Simon West chooses to give the film a more muted, measured cadence; trying to pass off a pulpy actioner as a sophisticated character-driven drama. But working with such weak substance devoid of any meat, the film squanders both opportunities. Between those occasional interesting stylistic flourishes, all that remains is long, dull passages full of dead air.