It’s okay, Mr. Statham. No need to sweat a reboot of “The Transporter” starring someone other than yourself. You’ve been there, done that and have other fish to fry. Take Nick Wild in your latest DVD release, “Wild Card.” He packs every bit the interest and skill set of Frank Martin in a Las Vegas set flick that’s lean, mean and oh so cool. And it’s penned by one of the best screenwriters in the business.
William Goldman, the man behind such classics as “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” adapted his own novel, “Heat,” into this multiple character study wrapped around a revenge tale. There are three big action sequences, the best of which is a splendidly choreographed one sided-brawl in a casino. It seems as though every hood in Vegas comes at Jason Statham and goes down in spectacular fashion. Then, in the climactic battle, you won’t believe what he does with a set of silverware.
Statham plays a security specialist working out of a private eye’s (Jason Alexander) office. He comes to the aid of an old female acquaintance (Dominik Garcia-Lorido) seeking retribution for a beating handed out by a cocky, hotheaded punk with connections and three big bruisers. An almost unrecognizable buffed and goateed Milo Ventimiglia (TV’s “Gilmore Girls” and “Heroes”) fits the bill nicely. There’s also a curious side story with an engagingly timid Michael Angarano seeking Statham’s protection while in town. Their unlikely pairing results in a mutually beneficial relationship that’s interesting to see develop.
Stanley Tucci gets a fabulous entrance silhouetted beneath theatre spotlights with some jazzy, classic Vegas style music. He has one solid scene as a mob guy from Statham’s old days. Also on hand and adding additional touches of class are Hope Davis as a sympathetic blackjack dealer and Anne Heche as a diner cashier. And you’ll get a major kick out of Davenia McFadden as a hotel worker dispensing information and advice with attitude while tearing into a burger.
The only waste is Sophia Vergara. Though she’s highly promoted, her character and brief opening scene are both completely dispensable. Otherwise this is good stuff that’s familiar yet fresh with surprising depths of character and some light humor. It plays out in vignettes that often leave you wanting more but flow together nicely in a tale that’s specifically Vegas yet generally universal. It earns a spot on Statham’s best movies list.