I Am Wrath (Blu-ray Review)

I Am WrathBrace yourself for a thrilling experience with the intense action-revenge thriller, I Am Wrath, arriving on Blu-ray (plus Digital HD), DVD (plus Digital) and On Demand on July 26 from Lionsgate Home Entertainment.  John Travolta stars as a former Black Ops agent who takes action after realizing a group of corrupt police officers will never solve his wife’s murder.  Also starring Christopher Meloni and from the director of The Scorpion King, the I Am Wrath Blu-ray with Digital HD contains a full-length audio commentary with Director Chuck Russell and Writer/Actor Paul Sloan.

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I’m a huge fan of the revenge genre.  When done right a good vengeance flick can provide both meaningful drama and righteous justice.  The main problem with the tepid stab at payback here titled I Am Wrath is that it contains none of the above.  Its by-the-numbers story approach mixed with sub-par visual filmmaking makes for a thriller that’s, well, not all that thrilling.

John Travolta stars as Stanley Hill a happily married man just back from a trip who upon meeting with his wife Vivian (Rebecca De Mornay) is attacked by a gang of men looking for money.  They seriously injure Stanley, but leave his wife dead.  Having seen the face of one of the men before the attack, Stanley picks him out of a line-up, but the thug is ultimately let go.  So fed up the red tape, the former Black Ops agent decides to seek some justice on his own and teams up with his former partner Dennis (Christopher Meloni) to take down the gang and everyone and anyone involved.

It’s strange that I don’t mind revealing some of the details above and it’s mainly because the surprises in I Am Wrath are hardly head scratchers.  Right from the get go it’s easy to sense there’s more to the ‘simple burglary gone awry’ bit than meets the eye – hell, a blind man could see it.  The story is filled with typical tropes of the genre like lead characters seeking redemption (Travolta even goes to a church and confesses his sins at one point!), dirty cops in on the scam (a totally lame and wasted Sam Trammell – see All Mistakes Buried instead!) and corruption at high government levels that all make for one very unoriginal thriller.  Not to mention that the film has a visual style and palate that’s seriously lacking and coming from Director Chuck Russell it’s a real surprise.  The man behind such movies as A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors, The Mask and The Scorpion King (and my personal favorite hidden gem The Blob with Kevin Dillon!) usually has a firm grip on making even the most mundane and at times inane look visually pleasing, but I Am Wrath never rises about its ‘shot in a few days’ feel.  (Eraser was daft, but at least it looked damn good!)

Plus as Russell’s main man of action, Travolta awkwardly seems to be giving two different performances here for nothing more than giving the film a clever twist.  On the one hand he’s a helpless husband who makes everyman mistakes and loses his wife in the process.  But on the other he’s a skilled and trained former Black Ops man of action who will stop at nothing to get some revenge. (He even gets a new badass back tattoo to prove it!)  The two sides of the character are not connected in any plausible way (for more layered work in this department see Liam Neeson’s work in the first Taken!) and as a result the film has a lot of believability issues.  Not to mention that wife Rebecca De Mornay is barely in the film and the only semi-interesting character – wry tough guy Chris Meloni – is reduced to a serious of quick quips and stereotypical action ticks that get old fast.

I’m actually glad that a film like I Am Wrath exists if for nothing other than it shows that there’s actual skill in making a memorable revenge thriller. It takes much more than just anger and action – real wrath requires more weaving.

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Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

Clarity/Detail: Can’t tell if it’s the way the movie was shot or not, but the picture here goes from one extreme – bright unflattering lights – to another – dark shadows that make it hard to see – for a film that looks low budget either way.

Depth: Surface level when it’s lit, but when it’s dark on characters and the space everything fades into the background.

Black Levels: All black levels are WAY to dark and make for a squinting not fun time.

Color Reproduction: Washed out or blown out – not great to choose from. (Especially from the guy who did The Mask and Eraser – what happened?!)

Flesh Tones: In full light Travolta comes off disturbing looking, but when the lights are low flesh looks better. (In a ‘can’t hardly see anyone’ kind of way!)

Noise/Artifacts: Somewhat clean.

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Audio Formats(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio

Subtitles: English SDH, English, Spanish

Dynamics: The film is loud when it should be, but does not make any clarity in the sound design.

Low Frequency Extension: Nothing notable – and that’s probably a good thing.

Surround Sound Presentation: Surround is okay, but certainly doesn’t help the film get any better.

Dialogue Reproduction: Clear – except for the occasional odd ADR from behind a character.

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I Am Wrath comes with Ultraviolet Digital HD Copy of the film.

Audio Commentary with Director Chuck Russell and Writer/Actor Paul Sloan – This track fares a tad better than the film itself due to Russell occasional touching on interesting movie related issues like melding practical and CGI effects (he calls the cig gag a Texas switch up!), film vs. digital (he likes film – this movie would have too!) and he even talks past flicks. (Eraser y’all!) Bottom line – this one would have been better with a moderator to keep things moving.

Also From Lionsgate (SD, 9:11)

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If you’re a die-hard John Travolta fan there’s worse out there, but as a revenge flick the only anger to be had will be by buyers at themselves for the misguided purchase.

I Am Wrath Bluray


I'm a passionate and opinionated film critic/movie journalist with over 20 years of experience in writing about film - now exclusively for WhySoBlu.com. Previous sites include nine years at Starpulse.com where I created Forgotten Friday Flick back in 2011, before that as Senior Entertainment Editor for The213.net and 213 Magazine, as well as a staff writer for JoBlo.com. My other love is doing cool events for the regular guy with my company Flicks For Fans alongside my friend, partner and Joblo.com writer James "Jimmy O" Oster. Check us out at www.Facebook.com/FlicksForFans.

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