By Sandie Angulo Chen,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Statham remake is violent and contemplative, not thrilling.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Not too many positive messages, unless you see the movie as a cautionary tale about gambling and/or working as a bodyguard for shady Las Vegas operatives. That said, in the case of the young billionaire, the story stresses that courage is something anyone can find.
Positive Role Models
Although he's a gambler and does shady things for money, Nick does hope for a better life.
Violence & Scariness
A few scenes are pretty bloody, with Nick taking on three different people and fighting with just his hands, driver's license, etc. He slashes, kicks, and punches; his opponents try to shoot, but he survives. He fights again later against several assailants. A prostitute is tortured and later tortures her attacker; people are injured or presumably killed.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Discussion of prostitution (legal in Las Vegas) and what a prostitute should/shouldn't be expected to do for money. A man tells two topless women (whether they're prostitutes or strippers is left unclear) to leave his room. A man recalls that his night with a prostitute was rough but consensual, since she got paid. A woman tells a man that she loved him and gives him a tender kiss.
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Frequent strong language includes "f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," "bitch," "whore," and more.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adults drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes in casinos, bars, and restaurants.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Wild Card is a remake of Heat, a 1986 William Goldman-penned thriller starring Burt Reynolds. Now headlining Jason Statham and reworked to modernize the story, the movie is more of a Las Vegas gambling drama than the typical Statham action adventure. Of course, there's still plenty of bloody action (others use guns, but not Statham's character, who can turn even household goods into deadly tools) and other violence (a prostitute is tortured and later tortures her attacker; people are injured or presumably killed). Language is strong and features plenty of "f--k," "s--t," "bitch," and "a--hole," and there's gambling, drinking, toplessness, and mention of prostitution in this Las Vegas-based story.
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What's the Story?
WILD CARD is a remake of screenwriter-novelist William Goldman's 1986 thriller Heat (not to be confused with Michael Mann's excellent heist thriller of the same name). Main character Nick Wild (Jason Statham) is a Las Vegas bodyguard who dreams of scoring a big Black Jack payout and leaving everything behind. But when his dear friend, Holly (Dominik Garcia-Lorido), a prostitute who works with high-end clients, tells him about a horrific incident with violent mobster Danny DeMarco (Milo Ventimiglia) and begs Nick to get revenge, he agrees to help. Meanwhile, he also takes a job with an eccentric young tech billionaire (Michael Angarano), who wants, of all things, to be brave.
Is It Any Good?
This movie can't decide if it's a bloody Vegas mob thriller or an introspective drama about a man with a "particular set of skills" who can't get out of the mess he's made of his life. Statham is best known for his ability to injure and kill on camera with a skill nearly unparalleled in contemporary action films, but in Wild Card he plays a somewhat reluctant enforcer who's having a midlife crisis. Audiences expecting a high-octane thriller are in for a surprise; most of the film is Statham gambling and wondering what a big win would grant him. With all the philosophizing about whether he should hit or not, the movie is a bit of a mess.
Director Simon West does his best to provide standout moments, casting great actors in small roles. Hope Davis plays Nick's favorite Black Jack dealer with expressive subtlety; Stanley Tucci steals scenes as a Vegas mobster; and Jason Alexander, Anne Heche, and Sofia Vergara make appearances in supporting performances. While it's pleasant to see these seasoned actors -- and even to see Statham stretch in his acting -- the film is uneven and unappealing, making it unlikely to please Statham's usual followers ... or anyone else.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about Wild Card's use of violence and fighting. Is the violence realistic or stylized? Is it believable that a man could fight that way without any weapons?
How does this movie compare to other Statham films? Do you prefer his more action-packed movies, or do you like it when he has more to do, acting wise?
Nick Wild is an anti-hero. He's got a lot of personal flaws and makes questionable decisions, but audiences are still meant to root for him. Why is that?
- In theaters: January 30, 2015
- On DVD or streaming: March 31, 2015
- Cast: Jason Statham, Michael Angarano, Hope Davis
- Director: Simon West
- Studio: Lionsgate
- Genre: Thriller
- Run time: 92 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong violence, language and some sexuality/nudity
- Last updated: February 26, 2023
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