Las Vegas is a city full of people who have interesting stories of sorrow and success. Winners turn to losers and vice versa at the roll of the dice. And then there’s the seedier underbelly that preys on visitors who don’t know what to look for or know exactly what they want. In Wild Card the main character treads between worlds, running a legitimate protection business and getting his hands dirty when the situation calls for it.
Nick Wild (Jason Statham) has been around Vegas so long, he’s made friends everywhere and in all the right places, from the casino floors to the hotel staff to shady business owners. When he escorts a client around, he knows exactly where to take them and to whom to introduce them. Such is the case when Cyrus Kinnick (Michael Angarano) hires his services, but Nick has something else on his mind. An old friend (Dominik García-Lorido) needs his help finding the men who attacked her and exacting revenge. One thing leads to another and Nick finds himself on the run — but first he needs to make a little getaway cash.
This film is entirely unsure of what story it wants to tell. Nick is at the centre of several narratives, but none of them are given priority or fit together particularly well. It feels as if the writer had three short stories or ideas and decided to combine them into one disjointed script. Audiences are introduced to Nick the nice guy, Nick the protector, Nick the enforcer, Nick the gambler and Nick the drunk in only 90 minutes. In addition, there is an excess of supplementary characters for what should be a relatively simple tale.
With Statham’s history and the supposed lethal background of his character, the limited fighting in the film is another of its downfalls. The two major sequences are impressive displays of Nick’s abilities, but they’re also over-stylized. Director Simon West previously collaborated with Statham in The Mechanic and helmed The Expendables 2, so he’ no stranger to action movies. Yet in the end, too much time is dedicated to dramatizing a guy who only possesses superficial depth.
At least two of the three stories related in the film could have been expanded into full-length narratives that had the potential to be more interesting then all of the tales were combined. Instead, audiences are presented with a trio of incomplete stories that butt heads with each other.