Statham plays Nick Wild, a bodyguard to those wanting to spend serious cash, and ensure their safety for a generous fee. Maintaining something of a low profile, Nick knows everyone worth knowing across the strip – which serves him well when wanting to find the savage and barbaric Danny DeMarco (Milo Ventimiglia), who viciously rapes his girlfriend Holly (Dominik Garcia-Lorido). Nick then sets off to seek vengeance, to get his hands on the sadistic son of a mob boss, and let him know exactly who runs things in Las Vegas.
Though Simon West does a commendable job in his inclination for style and frivolity, a story of this ilk is crying out for the credentials of directors such as Martin Scorsese – though needless to say it’s unlikely Wild Card is a project the esteemed filmmaker would have been particularly keen on. There’s just so little depth to the characters, and while Nick harbours an unhealthy affliction for gambling, it’s not delved into substantially enough, as this film comes devoid of the profoundly satirical undercurrent that enriched the likes of Casino.
The stylistic approach is detrimental to proceedings too, as while certainly creative in parts, it can be somewhat overbearing and overly concerned with being bodacious, with a contrived implementation of supposedly witty one-liners. The music can also attest to this notion, except in fairness, the quality of the soundtrack makes it bearable, with the likes of Ray Charles featured in this score, and illuminating the narrative accordingly. That being said, there are still slow-motion fighting sequences with Christmas music playing ironically over the top – it’s that kind of movie.
There’s one scene where Stanley Tucci – playing the feared and revered mob boss ‘Baby’, looks blankly at Nick, and just says, “If only that were funny”, unintentionally echoing the sentiments of the audience. But for the lack of humour, here is an undemanding piece of cinema, and a film that proves Statham is a man of his word, as following on from Hummingbird, where his character claimed, “I could kill you with this spoon”. Well in Wild Card, he most certainly does, and it’s glorious.