(I was delighted to be one of today’s featured poets on the NaPoWriMo website for yesterday’s poem, and I again thank everyone out there for reading and taking part in this writing challenge. Today’s prompt was to channel old detective novels with hard-boiled similes, which lend themselves perfectly to colorful descriptions.)

The fire burned like it knew its own death
And when it would have to be tamed,
And so it ran rampant upon the wind’s breath
Not caring for what it be blamed.

Like a convict escaped from the eve of death row,
It guzzled and ravaged and razed,
As if it but cared that all people would know
It had lived, and though briefly, had blazed.

Like the contents that ruptured from Pandora’s box,
It can’t be returned to its source.
It only can steal, like a wretched red fox
Who feeds without any remorse.

MPA rating: R (for language and violence)

One more 2020 film whose release was sabotaged by a certain pandemic, Those Who Wish Me Dead is a competent thriller that deserved better than its understandably poor box office showing. Based on a novel by Michael Koryta, who also helped pen the screenplay, the film is a natural fit for writer-director Taylor Sheridan, whose works like Hell or High Water embody the modernized western. This story of a young boy being hunted by assassins through the mountainous forests of Montana could have been set in the Old West, yet the modern setting makes it that much more believable and engrossing.

Angelina Jolie plays smokejumper Hannah Faber, who is haunted by lives lost in a recent wildfire. When she stumbles upon a young teen (Finn Little) fleeing a pair of ruthless hitmen (Aidan Gillen, Nicholas Hoult), she decides to protect him at all costs. There aren’t any major twists to the story, but it’s a taut tale well told. Jolie is quite good, but the standouts are Gillen and Hoult as the two murderous brothers who are both clever and callous enough for mortal danger to never be far behind the protagonists, especially when they start a wildfire to distract authorities and hem in their prey. Medina Senghore also gets a moment to shine as a pregnant wife who proves her mettle against the villains.

I have not read the original novel, but my VC has and noted that the book was better (of course) and that the film had several differences and focused more on Jolie’s character than the novel did, which Koryta must have approved as co-screenwriter. The movie did remedy an odd decision toward the end that allowed the movie to have a more satisfying ending, albeit with several unresolved story threads. My VC has become a big fan of Michael Koryta’s after reading this first book of his to be adapted to the screen, so hopefully others will follow.

Best line: (Jack, one of the hitmen) “I hate this f***ing place.”  (Allison) “It hates you back.”

Rank: List Runner-Up

© 2022 S.G. Liput
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