Wild Card (2015, USA, Simon West)
Wild Card went straight to VOD and had a limited theatrical release. It was universally slammed by critics. However, it is not as bad as all the reviews make it out to be. Even though, the film cannot be salvaged under the "Vulgar auteurism" tag, there is some merit when viewed in a different light, which is a straight up B-movie. Put simply, Wild Card is a solid B-Movie. The film doesn't present any new ideas as that is not its intention. Instead, the film performs a worthy correction to the recent fun image of Las Vegas by taking the city back to its original depiction of misery, sadness. It does so by packing the material with all the cliches, symbols associated with Las Vegas, a city which relishes in celebrating all the vices of humanity.
Beneath all the lights and glamour of Las Vegas, there is an inherent sadness and depression that was famously captured by Mike Figgis’ 1995 film Leaving Las Vegas. In that film, the character of Nicolas Cage and Elisabeth Shue perfectly depicted the hopelessness and circle of misery that the city inflicts on people. However, in recent years, that depressive side has been replaced by a fun side. Ocean’s Eleven (2001) turned Vegas into a light hearted fun background while Knocked Up (2007) included some good deal of humour when Paul Rudd’s character is obsessed with the different kinds of chairs in his Las Vegas room. Then The Hangover (2009) truly celebrated the drunkenness that comes with sin city. Wild Card tilts the pendulum back to that miserable side of Las Vegas that Mike Figgis showed. However, Wild Card layers this misery with some action, humour and even fun. There are characters one would expect to see in Las Vegas and scenarios which are commonplace. However, at the core, Jason Statham’s character of Nick Wild is a similar to that of Nicolas Cage’s Ben Sanderson from Leaving Las Vegas with one big difference. Cage’s Ben Sanderson wanted to end his life in misery. While, Nick Wild recognizes his miserable state yet like Sisyphus accepts his fate. Wild knows he is stuck in Vegas and no matter what he does, he cannot leave the city. So he lives with his misery yet manages to smile and continue on with this life. He has no desire to kill himself but is willing to be stuck in an endless loop of misery that Vegas brings. In a sense, Wild Card is Leaving Las Vegas with some optimism thrown in.