Revenge for a raped prostitute might sound like less-than-thrilling motivation for an action hero, but it works nevertheless to propel this uncharacteristically character-driven Jason Statham vehicle. The Expendables star here plays Nick Wild, a skid row Las Vegas “security consultant” in Simon West’s quality realization of a thirty-year-old William Goldman screenplay. A British special forces veteran who can take care of himself, Nick is also a self-destructive compulsive gambler and drinker who has to grapple with his own shortcomings as well as the gangsters who want him dead. Something of an odd couple dynamic comes into play when Nick is befriended by a nerdy software millionaire (Michael Angarano) looking to be initiated into the world of danger and excitement. Some of the exchanges between these two have a rather phony and forced cleverness; but the script, on the whole, is highly engaging and full of fun and surprises. The cast of familiar faces includes Stanley Tucci, Hope Davis, Anne Heche, and Jason Alexander in minor roles.
4 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Wild Card is:
6. Misandrist. An abused woman (Dominik Garcia-Lorido) threatens to sever the penis of a cocky misogynist (Milo Ventimiglia).
5. Corporate. A big-titted Latina (Sofia Vergara) squeezes in a quality plug for the junk food complex when she orders a Diet Pepsi. Putting in a good word for the usury industry, Statham’s credit card comes in handy when he uses it put a gash on a bad guy’s head. He also mentions eating Wheaties as a source of energy.
4. Anti-Christian. Set against the tacky blinking backdrop of one of America’s sleaziest, most Judaically resonant metropolises, Christmas is a hollow observance with no meaning. Simon West, in his commentary, relates that “the Christmas theme in the movie meant that I wanted to get some actual Vegas at Christmas footage, but […] unfortunately Vegas doesn’t seem to celebrate Christmas that much.”
3. Anti-Semitic! “You’re not supposed to like Vegas,” Nick explains of the city that Bugsy Siegel built. “It’s just this creeping virus people catch sometimes.”
2. Anti-gun. Nick rejects firearms, demonstrating instead how simple objects like silverware and ashtrays can be used to debilitate armed assailants.
1. Pro-miscegenation and anti-white. Most appallingly, Wild Card contains a scene of flirtation between Nick and an unappealing black hotel maid (Davenia McFadden). “Too bad you got all that British blood in you,” she teases him. “If you was black, I’d bed you good and fast.” “You can make believe,” Nick encourages her. “Nah,” she replies. “Don’t think this is racial or anything, but I never feel like you people are clean. This is a housekeeper you’re talking to, remember? I can tell if a Brit’s been in a room [snaps] just like that.” This dialogue suggesting that Brits are unclean makes little sense until one listens to Simon West’s commentary. “In the original script, the [Nick] character was actually Hispanic,” he reveals, “so we had to change the racial stereotyping.” Mexicans can no longer conscionably be depicted as dirtbags, but Englishmen are apparently still fair game. Three decades ago, when the screenplay was written, the occasional spot of political incorrectness was still permissible at the multiplex; but, fortunately for public morals, Wild Card was filmed in the current year, so to speak.