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Film / Those Who Wish Me Dead

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Those Who Wish Me Dead is a 2021 thriller film from director Taylor Sheridan, based on a book by Michael Koryta, who also co-wrote the script. It stars Angelina Jolie, Nicholas Hoult, Aidan Gillen, Jon Bernthal, Medina Senghore, and Tyler Perry.

Hannah Faber (Jolie) is a veteran smokejumper still reeling from witnessing some teammates and three young boys burn to death during a forest fire after she made a bad call. She comes across a young boy named Connor Casserley, whose father Owen (Jake Weber) was murdered by hitman brothers Jack and Patrick Blackwell (Gillen and Hoult) after he was set to present evidence against their boss (Perry). Hannah must protect Connor as the Blackwells set fire to the forest to lure them out.

The film was given a simultaneous theatrical and HBO Max release on May 14th, 2021.

This film provides examples of:

  • Actor Allusion: Jon Bernthal as a Sheriff's Deputy.
  • Ain't Too Proud to Beg: Unlike his brother, after Patrick gets hit a third time with Hannah's climbing ax, he can be heard weakly groaning out for her to stop, then asks for her to go ahead and finish him off before the fire gets to him.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Ethan is dead, the forest suffers severe fire damage, and Connor acknowledges that he has nowhere to go now that both his parents are dead, but Jack and Patrick are killed, and Connor is set to present evidence against Arthur Philip (or whoever is behind all of this), while Hannah vows to do what she can to make sure Connor is taken care of.
  • Brutal Honesty: Patrick, while beating Hannah to near death, tells Connor he'll stop if he comes out of hiding. When Connor asks if he'll let her go, Patrick bluntly says no, but she won't suffer when he does kill her.
  • The Cameo: Tyler Perry as Arthur.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Several characters in the film, mainly Hannah and Connor, use copious amounts of vulgarity mainly comprised of the word "Fuck".
  • Corrupt Politician: Owen mentions that governors and members of Congress are involved in the criminal activity he uncovered.
  • "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot: A villainous example. Jack repeatedly and frustratedly notes that if his boss hadn't been too cheap to hire a second team of hitmen, then the two teams could have killed Owen and the D.A. (and their families) at the same time. Instead, Owen hears about the D.A.'s murder on the news and immediately goes on the run with his son while the Blackwells drive toward his house after the first hit, kicking the plot into motion.
  • Death Seeker: Hannah. It's pretty clear to just about everyone in the film that she trying to work up the nerve to kill herself.
  • Defiant to the End: Unlike Patrick, Jack, when facing down the barrel of Alison's gun after already having been shot twice, just says he hates Montana, before making one last lunge as Alison shoots him a third time.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Hannah is either drunk or has liquor in her hands for pretty much the entire first half of the movie.
  • Dying Declaration of Love: Twice. First from Connor's dad before he distracts Jack and Patrick so Connor can get away, and again near the end when Ethan and Alison tell each other they love one another.
  • Gilligan Cut: After Hannah does a parachute stunt and is confronted by Ethan, who is the sheriff.
    Hannah: What are you gonna do? Arrest me?
    [cut to Hannah sitting in the back of Ethan's van]
    Hannah: Fuck...
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Arthur Philip, the crime boss employing the Blackwells to kill Connor.
  • The Heavy: Arthur Philip is the Big Bad (at least in terms of on screen presence), but his dragons Jack and Patrick Blackwell are the primary antagonists driving the plot.
  • Kill It with Fire: Patrick is ultimately burnt to death when the forest fire spreads and he is too heavily injured to pick himself up and run.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: The Blackwells end up dead as a direct result of their own antics. Jack ends up shot to death by Ethan's wife and Patrick dies an agonizing death in the very forest fire they started.
  • MacGuffin: Whatever it is that Owen uncovered. It's never explained what he actually uncovered. All we know is that some accounting doesn't add up.
    • Whatever it is, it's so important that Hannah (who doesn't have Owen's expertise) is able to tell after looking at it for a few seconds that she and Connor need to get to the media immediately.
  • My Greatest Failure: Hannah still feels guilt over the incident that killed some of her teammates and three young boys, because she read the wind wrong and left them in a position that was hard to escape.
  • No Kill Like Over Kill: The Blackwells' general strategy consists of causing as much collateral damage as possible for the sake of killing a target. Jack's solution to not being able to find Connor is to start a forest fire to keep the police busy.
  • The Omniscient Council of Vagueness: There seems to be more people involved in this in the background. Mostly implied by Connor's dad.
  • Outrun the Fireball: Toward the end, when the forest fire is advancing extremely fast.
  • Plot-Triggering Death: The DA and his family. Owen sees them on the news, prompting him to take his son and run.
  • Pregnant Badass: Ethan's wife Allison, who is six months pregnant, immediately twigs that something is wrong when Jack and Patrick come to her house disguised as federal agents. She manages to burn Jack pretty badly with an Aerosol Flamethrower and later kills him, and escapes to find her husband.
  • Smug Snake: Jack Blackwell acts like he's an expert hitman, and confidently predicts that it would take Owen one day to work up the courage to flee and another to plan out his escape, but Owen's much quicker reaction gives him enough of a head-start to nearly reach Ethan. He also calculates that their chosen ambush point for Owen is low-traffic enough that they won't be noticed, but instead a car arrives and they have to kill the witness and flee before verifying that there were no survivors from Owen's car.
  • Spanner in the Works:
    • The Blackwells' first hit goes off without a hitch but is reported on the news fairly quickly, which Owen watches and prompts him to flee with his son.
    • Connor survives the attempt on his life and escapes, forcing the Blackwells to continue pursuing him and eventually causing such a mess that it exposes the Big Bad anyway.
  • Stupid Evil: The people who hired the Blackwells, who know perfectly well that their freedoms and livelihoods depend upon everybody in the investigation being deader than a door nail ASAP, still decided to be cheap and only hire the brothers. The Blackwells themselves show annoyance about this at one point as they rush to finish the assassinations before their targets run off, having been warned that they are next because of the initial murders making the news.
  • Together in Death: Ethan and Alison try this when Ethan's injuries prevent him from leaving the watchtower that is quickly getting surrounded by flames. Partially averted, as while Ethan does die, Alison survives.
  • The Unreveal: We never find out what Owen discovered that would make anyone come after him or his family.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The Blackwells have no qualms about killing Connor for their boss.
    • They are also heavily implied to have killed a baby (the D.A.'s wife and child in the opening).