‘Those Who Wish Me Dead’ Review – A Straightforward Survival Thriller

There used to be a time when the thriller genre reigned supreme to the point of spawning a myriad of subgenres. The “mystery” thriller, the “action” thriller, the “survival” thriller. Such was the trend that Hollywood relied on in the ‘90s through the early 2000s, one that liberated directors from the constraints of traditional studio moviemaking, AND one that actors both upcoming and veteran flocked to for mainstream success. Take Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman in Se7en, or Will Smith and Gene Hackman in Enemy of the State, or a forgotten 1997 wilderness thriller The Edge starring Alec Baldwin and Anthony Hopkins. Studios banked on thrillers before capes and comic books took over, a modern trend that has all but eviscerated the middle-budget movie.

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The Detectives of David Fincher

In another life, David Fincher would make an excellent detective. It’s no coincidence that the protagonists in his films often brandish the fedora and trench-coat (some literally, others spiritually) or are prone to endless brooding as they piece together a complicated world. But it’s not the fact that they investigate that’s so compelling, it’s that they obsess. For a director himself who will shoot 100 takes of a scene, or refine the junk in a character’s apartment to an exact science, or pore over every line and molecule of the script; this storyteller-character pairing is as self-reflexive as it is madly engrossing.

This, of course, depends on how you like your heroes. Some like ‘em squeaky clean in every moral facet i.e. won’t take a nickel off the street, or aren’t above arresting every rule-breaking offender out there including jaywalkers. I like my detectives the way Fincher does, weathered and broken and a little fucked up. Continue reading