Writer/director Guy Ritchie and actor Jason Statham are one of those teams that, even if they take a huge break from making movies together, you always associate them with one another. Even after almost 20 years apart, Statham is one of Ritchie’s favorite actors to work with, which is easy to see in their latest collaboration, Wrath of Man. The reason that Guy Ritchie loves to work with the action superstar is due to his authenticity, as well as his mass appeal to pretty much any demographic you throw at him.
I had the honor of speaking with Mr. Ritchie for Wrath of Man’s press day, and with such a storied history between the director and his favored collaborator, we got to talking. More specifically, I asked him how he felt about Jason Statham’s career evolution as an extremely bankable action star, which all started with his discovery in the 1998 crime comedy Lock, Stock, and Two Smokin’ Barrels. Guy Ritchie didn’t hesitate to start off by citing Mr. Statham’s authentic workmanship, as follows:
Actually, I think part of his charm is that you get what you think you’re gonna get. He hasn’t tried to get too clever over this issue. I think what you buy is authenticity with Jason, and I’m very fond of him as a human being. Which is why I’m sort of biased to use him in things.
Between 1998 and 2005, Guy Ritchie and Jason Statham made Lock, Stock, and Two Smokin’ Barrels, Snatch and Revolver together. That’s a hell of a run to leave undisturbed for almost two decades, and if they were ever going to pick things back up again, Wrath of Man is most certainly a fitting project to do so. Casting Statham as a one-man army simply known as “H,” his quest to discover the armored truck robber who killed his son is something that’s right in Ritchie’s wheelhouse.
It also needs to be noted that Wrath of Man, in its mere existence as an R-rated film without a blockbuster IP behind it, is kind of a magical thing in and of itself. Though the Guy Ritchie brand certainly helps sell the adult nature of the project, as he’s returned to that wilderness, starting with last year’s sleeper hit The Gentlemen. Much as he did with that project, Ritchie used his casting prowess to draw marketable talent into the fold. That put Wrath of Man’s casting of Jason Statham in a unique position thanks to this observation by Guy Ritchie:
He has a unique ability to appeal to all demographics and ages. My kids like him, my grandmother likes him, my father likes him. He seems to appeal to all those demographics, then people of my age like him. So he’s unique in the sense that I’m not sure how many other actors are quite like Jason.
Pretty much everyone does like Jason Statham, and the man’s resume proves it. He can do hardboiled, foul-mouthed Guy Ritchie capers just as well as he can fight a prehistoric shark in The Meg or spar with Dwayne Johnson in Hobbs & Shaw. It’s something the people who are behind The Meg 2 should consider, as if anyone’s still gun shy about going for that R-rating, Guy Ritchie may have just delivered proof that they should grab that opportunity. We’ll see if that turns out to be the case this Friday, when Wrath of Man opens only in theaters, as well as whenever the next Guy Ritchie/Jason Statham collaboration, formerly titled Five Eyes, is set to be released. Which, thankfully, is already in the can and shouldn't take 16 years to debut.