Wanted Man (2024) Review

The press release for Wanted Man describes writer/director/star Dolph Lundgren’s character like this, “Johansen is an aging detective, whose outdated policing methods have given the department a recent public relations problem.” Those outdated methods include beating up a suspect while making what could be taken as racist remarks, all in full view of a news crew.

In case that isn’t enough to lets us know what he thinks of his neighbours to the South, we get to see him hang out at a strip club with some buddies, including Brenner (Kelsey Grammer, Murder Company, The Expendables 3), Hilts (Aaron McPherson, Death by Engagement, Don’t Kill It) and Tinelli (Michael Paré, The Puppetman, They Crawl Beneath) trading comments about how disgusting Mexicans are. And to cap off the night, he has to be stopped from attacking another Mexican in the parking lot.

In light of this it’s only logical that, to keep him out of the public eye until things blow over, he’s sent to Mexico to bring back a pair of hookers Rosa (Christina Villa, The Wedding in the Hamptons, River) and Leticia (Daniela Soto-Brenner, Scherzo Diabolico, Fight Back) who witnessed a shooting that left a pair of undercover officers from the DEA, DOA.


Perhaps the only surprising thing about any of this is that it took three writers, Lundgren, Hank Hugues, and Michael Worth (Bring Me the Head of Lance Henriksen, War Wolves) to come up with it. It’s all very predictable, as is the ambush that leaves him injured and on the run with only Rosa for help.

The last film Lundgren directed, Castle Falls, was among his better recent films, and I was hoping Wanted Man would be another above average film. But it takes forever to get going and by the halfway mark resembles Misery more than anything else, with Johansen cuffed to a bed in Rosa’s cousin’s house and spouting lines like “Coming from someone who gives blowjobs for a living, I find that hard to swallow.”


The information that provoked that remark, that crooked American cops were the killers, should have been a big reveal, but it’s given away in the prologue. I was hoping this would be the point where Wanted Man final got moving, but everyone just yells at each other until the cartel finally do figure out where they are and attack, giving the film it’s second action scene in an hour.

For most of its running time, Wanted Man is a talky drama focused on the relationship between Rosa and Johansen and his realization that not all Mexicans are cartel thugs and traffickers. Some are just looking for a way out of poverty, That could certainly make a good film, and could have been a decent subplot here. Instead, it took over and turned what is supposed to be an action film into a predictable drama, right down to the cutesy final scene.

And, for a film with three writers, Wanted Man is just way too predictable. It’s hard to believe none of them could think of anything that hasn’t been done so many times before, especially with Lundgren and Worth having done so much in the genre. Instead, they deliver a story that limps to a climax you’ll see coming the moment they head North.


What action scenes we do get, there ends up being three of them, four if you count the opening murders, are well enough done and acknowledge Lundgren’s age by leaning on gun play rather than fists. They also use old-fashioned squibs for the bullet hits rather than CGI. It’s just too bad there wasn’t more need for them because that’s what people will be watching Wanted Man for.

Rather than being an action oriented fish out of water thriller, Wanted Man ends up being a talky film that tries to get by on the occasional burst of violence interrupting people’s conversations. Short appearances at the beginning and end by Grammer and Paré don’t do much to help either. Tracking down this Wanted Man will bring the viewer little reward.

Quiver Distribution will release Wanted Man to theatres as well as on VOD and Digital Platforms on January 19th.

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