Blu-ray Review: I Am Wrath

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New from Lionsgate is the direct-to-video revenge thriller I Am Wrath starring John Travolta. Travolta's presence is pretty much the entire selling point of this moderately competent Death Wish-esque feature. It's Chuck Russell's first directorial effort since 2002's The Scorpion King. Russell also helmed the hits Eraser (1996), The Mask (1994), and A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors (1987). But despite his track record, maybe he should've waited even longer before returning to the director's chair. I Am Wrath is underdeveloped and, even worse, boring.

That said, diehard Travolta fans might want to check it out. He plays Stanley Hill, an engineer with a shady past. Maybe not shady, but definitely mysterious. He has fighting and surveillance skills, kind of reminiscent of a poor man's Liam Neeson from Taken (not a knock against Travolta, but rather the writing). His wife, Vivian (Rebecca De Mornay), is a high-ranking EPA officer who's working on some sort of important wastewater disposal project (I think). After Vivian is savagely murdered before his very eyes, with the perps getting away cleanly, Stanley teams with old friend Dennis (Christopher Meloni) to avenge his wife. Turns out there was nothing random about the murder, so Stanley and Dennis have quite a conspiracy to unravel.

I Am Wrath is not very clearly plotted, truth be told. Nor do the action or shootouts ever rise above perfunctory levels. What does work is the chemistry between Travolta and Meloni, who make an agreeable buddy team. Their past together (and the work they apparently shared) is never satisfactorily explained, but their interplay makes one wish the whole movie had focused on them rather than the tired revenge stuff.

Lionsgate's Blu-ray is technically sound, no issues with the hi def transfer of Andrzej SekuĊ‚a's (Pulp Fiction) cinematography or the lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix. As for special features, there's an audio commentary by director Chuck Russell and co-screenwriter (and cast member) Paul Sloan. Having listened to the first 20 minutes or so, it's a reminder of the marginal value of a lot of commentary tracks. It was recorded right after the final edit was locked and it was, in fact, Sloan's first viewing of the finished film. That doesn't allow for much perspective as the filmmakers reflect on their work.

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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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