From Chuck Russell, the director behind The Mask (Jim Carrey) and Eraser (Ahhnold Schwarzenegger) comes his latest creation, I Am Wrath a barely serviceable revenge picture that we have all seen done before and better. The plot is simple. John Travolta is a happily married man whose wife (Rebecca De Mornay) is brutally killed in the airport parking lot. She had just picked up Stanley (Travolta) who had come back from a job interview with a car manufacturing plant. He, of course, has a previous life as a Black Ops soldier who has left that life behind and has started a family. He is a father and a grandfather and life seems to be good until we get to the airport parking lot when he and his wife are assaulted.
Travolta is not a stranger to controversy from his Scientology beliefs, to the various accusations of his sexuality. On those issues I could not have cared less and still consider myself a fan of Travolta. But after the horrible loss of his son and the previously mentioned issues, indicate that it has taken its toll, understandably and he seems to be in a rut. Either he cannot pick good scripts or the good scripts simply are not coming to him. I can count the last five films to be routine action tripe. These are films that are nothing short of standard, assembly line film making. I know Travolta must still be dealing with a lot of emotions from his personal life and my heart goes out to him. He is a fine actor. He can be brave and honorable or he can play the bad guy with glee. Why he is agreeing to be in such sterile and conventional films is a mystery to me. Gotta keep the money coming in somehow, I guess.
I Am Wrath features Travolta as he, convincingly at first, grieves for his wife, but switches into automatic as he seeks revenge. He enlists his old buddy, Dennis (Chrisopher Meloni) to help him exact his revenge, but it is all standard fare that you could watch in any number of Steven Seagal films. I Am Wrath is better than any of his, for the most part, but that ain’t saying much, let me tell ya. But this is lazy filmmaking. What is does is adequate for some, but this is everyone just cashing a check. Director Russell, who is not a bad director even of action films, keeps the action flowing, but the story is so general and script writers Yvan Gauthier and Paul Sloan, do nothing with their premise. There is not one scene you won’t see coming, car chases, shootouts, corrupt cops and sleazebag politicians all of which are bland, insignificant and mundane. The cast does what they can and you won’t fall asleep (at least, I don’t think you will) but I Am Wrath is strictly by the numbers filmmaking.
Travolta and Meloni escape with their reputations in tact and I loved Haim Mazar’s score for the film but I Am Wrath is not angry or gritty enough to convince that it means business. Travolta’s Stanley is a grieving widow, but seems to ham it up with Dennis with lame attempts at humor that are misplaced. It detracts from the viewer taking Stanley seriously about his mission. My advice to Travolta (whose only real treat, recently, as an actor is playing attorney Robert Shapiro on the mini-series The People Vs. O.J. Simpson), is to take some time off and regroup. He does not need the money, as far as I can tell. So use the time to field some scripts worthy of your talents. I Am Wrath is not one of them.
I Am Wrath- ** out of 5
I Am Wrath- Rated R for violence and language
I Am Wrath- Run Time is 92 minutes
I Am Wrath is currently in select cities and available On Demand