“Those Who Wish Me Dead” gives us Angelina Jolie as a smokejumper that places herself in solitude after a deadly fire. Still, while Jolie is fantastic, Media Senghore steals the scenes with her quick thinking and stellar performance. Senghore plays pregnant wife, Allison to Jon Bernthal’s character, Ethan. She also happens to run a survival school in the Montana mountains, a skill that comes in handy when two assassins come to the area looking for their family, Connor (Finn Little) and his father, Owen (Jake Weber).
The movie is based on the novel of the same name by Michael Koryta. When Owen, a forensic accountant, uncovered something big, a ruthless group of assassins, Aidan Gillen (Game of Thrones) and Nicholas Hoult (X-Men) and led by Tyler Perry, look to stop him before the information makes it to the district attorney. Owen fears his life is in danger right away and heads to Montana to seek shelter with members of his family that can protect him and his son Connor. It’s up to Hannah to keep Connor safe when she comes across him deep in the woods. What would an action story be without a race against lightning and forest fire? This film kicks off with action from the start, and while the story is a little weak, the action makes up for this in the end. Between the highly organized assassins and a raging storm and forest fire, the characters have their work cut out for them if they are to survive the night and keep Connor safe.
While the cast is a wonderful group, the highlight of two strong female characters that will do anything to protect others is what stands out to me the most.
“Medina, she’s a force,” says Bernthal. “Taylor [director] made the decision to write the women in this story as the ones kicking ass and making things happen, and there’s something really real and truthful about that.”
“I think the themes are about perseverance and internal fortitude, and that fires—literal and metaphorical—will burn, whether they’re man-made or nature-made,” says Senghore. “They’ll challenge you in ways you couldn’t imagine. What you do with that and how you deal with it is at the core of the journey.”
When I think of Jolie in action/thriller films like this one, I think about how much of a badass she is and how it commands the screen. For the role of Hannah, she dials it back to showy stunts and quick thinking mishaps. Her role also highlights a profession that is getting more recognition these days, as in “Playing with Fire.” Smokejumpers drop from airplanes to areas of the forest that don’t have roads and put out or divert fires and protect the people that live or visit these areas.
“Those Who Wish Me Dead” is in theaters and streaming on HBO Max on May 14th.
Those Who Wish Me Dead