StathamWild Card, directed by Simon West and starring Jason Statham, is your quintessential Statham action movie.  And even with an acclaimed and experienced writer like William Goldman, the movie doesn’t do much beyond what you’d expect a Statham movie to do.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a fun action movie for the fight scenes, the hard-up loner who rescues his distressed female, and the often happy ending where the bad guy gets his and the not as bad guy drives away with a few cuts and bruises. Formulaic, sure, but if you know what you’re going to get, it’s hard to be too disappointed.

In Wild Card (a fun title on so many levels), Nick Wild (Statham) is a security consultant, at least that’s the title on his office door, with a big problem and a big dream.  His problem is his gambling addiction, and that’s exactly the one thing preventing him from his dream of leaving Las Vegas and sailing the seas of Corsica.

But when one of his friends, Holly (played by Dominik García-Lorido), gets raped and beaten and then, thank goodness for the plot, wants revenge, Nick feels morally obliged to step in and help.

There are a few more plot twists and we get several glimpses of the down-and-dirty folks from Vegas’ blue-collar collective and a sprinkling of men in vibrant silk shirts, but sadly none of these characters add too much depth to the film; I think of them more as adding to the setting.

The movie’s poster is riddled with big-name actors (Stanley Tucci, Sofia Vergara, Jason Alexander to name a few), but don’t expect to see much of them, as each one plays a very small role.  I could have used so much more Tucci (he plays “Baby”).

And while the über-familiar faces only grace the screen for a few moments, the supporting cast falls a little flat. I can’t quite tell if their acting was trying to emulate that gritty  noir, gangster, B-movie feeling or if they just weren’t very good, particularly Holly, the femme fatale, who just didn’t do it for me.

The sound track adds a nice layer to the film, though, with lots of oldies, and a few Christmas classics (the movie takes place in December). It is a nice throwback and also offers a strong contrast to the wealth and tourism that exudes from Las Vegas’ orifices and the crime and filth that tend to follow.

Statham Fightig

The best parts of Wild Card are obviously Statham’s fight scenes.  Really, the reason I wanted to watch this movie was to see Statham majestically beat the shit out of several people that are invariably surrounding him. There are two killer fight scenes (one where he’s only armed with flatware) and another pretty great one that was a little short for my taste but made sense with the plot.

Statham is pretty on-point with his usual one-man-show, holier-than-thou-but-with a-weakness self.  He does a good job; he’s not showcasing unparalleled acting abilities, but he did get to kick some serious ass.

Skip this one if you’re expecting serious cinematic quality, but do go if you want some fabulous Hollywood escapism filled with cliché characters and fun action sequences. I don’t really want to give it only a half a thumbs-up; so instead, I give it two fists up.