by shael stolberg
In the new film WILD CARD opening theatrically on January 30th in Toronto & Montreal with a simultaneous Canadian VOD release, Jason Statham plays Nick Wild a compulsive gambler & security consultant who dreams about leaving Las Vegas but every time he wins enough money to leave its never enough and he always gives it back. To paraphrase Michael Corleone from The Godfather “Every time I am out, they drag me back in”. There is the requisite amount of clever actions sequences some involving gardening shears & spoons. Within the first 10 minutes of the film we see a woman ,Holly, (Dominik García-Lorido), beaten up and left bloodied on the road outside a Las Vegas hospital. In turns out its an old flame of Nick’s and he is later convinced to help find & exact some revenge on the abuser. Of course, complications ensue which forces Nick to try and make one last score before he needs to leave town or be killed.
WILD CARD is adapted from a novel by William Goldman (who also wrote the screenplay) written in 1985. If you are thinking “why did it take 30 years for the film to be made?” let me tell you that it is not the first time. The novel was adapted into the film HEAT (named after the novel) and 10 years before Michael Mann’s WILD CARD cast heavyweights Al Pacino & Robert De Niro face to face for the first time in a film. The first adaptation was released in 1986 starring Burt Reynolds and lets just say did not do well.
This new adaptation directed by Simon West (<strong>Con Air & The General’s Daughter) has a cast full of stars (even though they are only in a few scenes) which includes Stanley Tucci, Hope Davis, Jason Alexander, Sofía Vergara and Anne Heche. Aside from Tucci & Davis one can say the other three could be considered stunt casting. That being said, they were perfectly cast for their roles (especially Alexander as the shady character “Pinky” and Vergara as the gorgeous woman worth fighting for).
Even though his film was directed by an experienced director and the screenplay was written by a two-time Oscar winning writer its a Jason Statham film all the way… and that is a good thing.
In essence, the film can be seen as a retelling of the old Aesop Fable The Scorpion and the Frog. As the frog is about to lose consciousness after the scorpion stings him condemning both of them to a watery grave the frog asks “Why?” and the scorpion says “Its my nature”.
Well, to see if the fable plays out or our scorpion (Statham) can fight his nature and survive and get out of Vegas you have to see the film and as usual, with all Statham vehicles, its a fun ride.
WILD CARD will be simultaneously released in Canadian theatres (in Toronto & Montreal) and on Video On Demand (VOD) on January 30.