Wild Card, film review: Jason Statham stars in a thoroughly tongue-in-cheek affair

(15) Simon West, 92 mins. Starring: Jason Statham, Sofia Vergara, Stanley Tucci, Jason Alexander, Hope Davis, Milo Ventimiglia
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The Independent Culture

The latest Jason Statham thriller is based on a novel by William Goldman, author of the Hollywood memoir Adventures in the Screen Trade, script writer of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and originator of one of the most famous observations ever made about the film industry, namely: "Nobody knows anything." The Goldman book has already inspired one film, the 1986 Burt Reynolds vehicle Heat.

The new version is a thoroughly tongue-in-cheek affair that gleefully recycles clichés from other Las Vegas-set movies while invoking the spirit of Raymond Chandler and even of Nic Cage in Leaving Las Vegas. Statham is in Robert Mitchum-mode as Nick Wild, a down-at-heel security expert, bodyguard and gambling addict who regards Vegas as a "creeping virus that people catch sometimes". He just can't shake the city off. When he helps an old girlfriend (Dominik García-Lorido) avenge herself against a mobster who assaulted her, he seems to be inviting the furies to come after him.

Wild Card performed disastrously in the US but is offbeat and entertaining enough to stand a fair chance of achieving cult status in future years. Not many other thrillers have renditions of "White Christmas" playing over their most violent action sequences.