Jason Statham and Josh Harnett star in “Wrath of Man.”
Jason Statham and Josh Harnett star in “Wrath of Man.”

Wrath of Man (Warner Bros., Blu-ray or DVD, R, 119 min.). Director/screenplay writer Guy Ritchie is once again in top form as he takes us to the mean streets where gangsters operate, only this time the scene is set in Los Angeles instead of London (see his “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels,” even “Snatch”). “Wrath of Man” is a revenge movie that pulls no violent punches and Jason Statham, appearing in his fourth Ritchie film (“Lock, Stock” and “Revolver” among them), is perfect as the emotionless, take-no-prisoners executioner of that revenge in the noir-tinged thriller.

The film has a unique opening as it starts with the holdup of a cash truck, filmed entirely from within the truck. As the robbery commences, we hear gunfire on two separate occasions, with someone shouting that he has killed the two guards and he has shot a civilian. Later, in one of the film’s many flashbacks, we see the scene repeated, only this time our viewpoint is from outside of the cash truck.

“Cash Truck” (originally “Le Convoyeur”) is the 2004 French film, written by Eric Besnard and director Nicolas Boukhrief, that Ritchie and co-writers Ivan Atkinson and Marn Davies have adapted, keeping the basic outline of the plot. The cash trucks here are owned by the private security firm Fortico Armed Security, which transfers millions of dollars daily for stores, malls and the like.

The story resumes several weeks after the robbery, with Statham playing new Fortico hire Patrick Hill, who gets nicknamed “H” by company trainer Bullet (Holt McCallany of “Fight Club,” TV’s “Mindhunter”). Hill is assigned to partner with driver “Boy Sweat” Dave (Josh Hartnett of “The Faculty,” “Black Hawk Down”), who wants nothing to do with H. Bullet is also on the crew and on H’s second job, the cash truck is attacked and Bullet is used as a human shield. It is no problem for H, though, who wipes out all six attackers with precision, military-like skill. By now, the viewer knows that H had deliberately downplayed his skills while doing the training tests. The screenplay teases exactly what his role may be, especially as it is fairly widely acknowledged, even among the police, that there must be an inside man at Fortico.

As we learn more about Hill, the movie shifts the audience’s perception, which, frankly, is delightful. We learn that everything Hill does has a purpose, even to deliberately baiting a co-worker during a game of pool.

During another robbery three months later, the attackers see Hill’s face and literally run away, leading to more questions for both the audience and Hill’s co-workers. At this point, the film jumps back five months and replays the initial robbery, only this time from outside the cash truck, and we see how Hill was involved. The film plays out in violent, satisfactory fashion from then on. The violence includes some torture and a gang of ex-combat-veteran thieves, led by Jackson (Jeffrey Donovan of TV’s “Burn Notice,” “Fargo”) and including the trigger-happy, smirky Jan (Scott Eastwood of “The Fate of the Furious,” “Pacific Rim: Uprising”), plus Carlos (Laz Alonso) and Sam (Raul Castillo). For a brief while, when the film shifts to Jackson’s gang, it seems like a different movie, but soon everything is tied together … with a lot of pain.

Unfortunately, there are no bonus features. Grade: film 4 stars

Rating guide: 5 stars = classic; 4 stars = excellent; 3 stars = good; 2 stars = fair; dog = skip it

Pickup on South Street (1953, Criterion Collection, Blu-ray, NR, 80 min.). Director/screenwriter Sam Fuller created a film with no heroes, only people full of self-interest, and just a sprinkle of anti-Communism in the entertaining “Pickup on South Street,” a tale about a pickpocket who unknowingly steals information on a new chemical formula that is being sold to Communists. At one point, the pickpocket, or cannon as they are known in cop slang, barks at the police, “Don’t wave the Flag at me.”

The original story by Dwight Taylor centered on a female lawyer and basically was a courtroom drama. Instead, Fuller centers the story on a pickpocket, played snarkily deliciously by Richard Widmark, who played a psycho in “Kiss of Death” (1947) who propels a wheelchair-bound old lady down a flight of steps. Widmark also appeared in Fuller’s “Hell or High Water” (1954).

The wonderful opening sequence takes places in a crowded subway car. As pickpocket Skip McCoy (Widmark) looks around for a mark, he gets closer and closer to his eventual victim (Jean Peters of “Three Coins in the Fountain” as Candy). However, we also see that Candy is being watched by two mysterious men. We soon learn that one of them is FBI agent Zara (Willis B. Bouchey of “The Big Heat”), who sees McCoy lift something from Candy’s purse.

That something happens to be stolen government film that Candy is taking from her boyfriend Joey (Richard Kiley of “The Thorn Birds” as a real nasty type) to his Communist contact. Zara had been trailing Candy so he could nab the Communist. When Zara realizes the pickpocket has taken the film, he has to turn to police Capt. Dan Tiger (Murvyn Vye of “Road to Bali”) for help in identifying and tracking down the thief.

Tiger turns to one of his regular stool-pigeons, Moe, who also sells neckties. Moe is played wonderfully by Thelma Ritter, who received an Oscar nomination for her performance. Moe lives by a code that she was brought up to help the police as any citizen should, and the money she earns is all going toward her funeral plot and headstone costs, as she wants a proper burial.

McCoy, who has been arrested three times by Capt. Tiger and only recently got out of prison, lives in a bait shack on the East River. His refrigeration is a box for his beer bottles that he keeps down in the river. When he learns what the film is, McCoy decides to demand $25,000 from the Communist, so he is not even a proper antihero. However, he does become emotionally involved with Candy, bringing out the triple meaning of “pickup” in the title – pickup as in the theft, as in the police questioning him and as gaining a romantic partner.

The bonus features include an informative new video piece by film critic Imogen Sara Smith, author of “In Lonely Places: Film Noir Beyond the City,” on how Fuller liked characters that live outside of society, but have their own code of ethics (35:48). There also is a 1989 interview with Fuller on the film and his working at 20th Century Fox (19:06; he points out how FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover disliked the film and demanded changes); Fuller going over the beginning of the film for a 1982 French TV program (11:05); the June 21, 1954 Hollywood Radio Theater presentation with Ritter, Terry Moore as Candy and Stephen McNally as McCoy (52:20; audio only); and a collection of trailers for 15 Fuller films (39:34). The booklet contains essays by author-critic Luc Sante and filmmaker Martin Scorsese, and a chapter from Fuller’s posthumously-published 2002 autobiography, “A Third Face: My Tale of Writing, Fighting and Filmmaking.” Fuller was a newspaper crime reporter earlier in his life, so he had a lot of familiarity with pickpockets and how the police treated them. Grade: film 3.75 stars; extras 3.5 stars

Held (Magnet, Blu-ray or DVD, NR, 93 min.). The story concerns a couple – Jill Awbry, also the screenwriter, as Emma Barrett and Bart Johnson as Henry Barrett – who try to salvage their marriage by renting a luxurious, but remote home for the weekend However, once there, they are trapped inside the house, which has electronic shutters and door locks, by a mysterious Voice (performed by co-director Travis Cluff). The Voice, who knows intimate details about their lives and even has home movie footage, has drugged them and implanted devices behind the ear that enable him to cause them severe pain.

It seems initially that the Voice just wants to improve their marriage through such mundane things as Henry opening doors for Emma and Emma cooking dinner. However, some revelations result in much darker activities and Emma, whose viewpoint the film more presents, is desperate to seek a way out.

The overall premise is weird and the first half is very slow – who cares that much about their relationship, one thinks – but then there is a so-cool reveal and a much better second half.

Bonus features include an audio commentary by directors Chris Lofing and Cluff; an alternate ending that has almost no differences (3:32); a making-of featurette, with the two directors (Lofing does most of the talking), cinematographer Kyle Gentz and actress/writer Awbrey (21:19); and a look at the orchestral film score (2:02). Grade: film 2.5 stars; extras 2.25 stars

Threshold (Arrow Video, Blu-ray, NR, 78 min.). Like “Held,” the film starts off fairly boring, but continues that way until a far-too-late payoff that is not that great. The film does have a gimmick of sorts in that it was improvised and shot on two iPhones during a 12-day road trip with a crew of only three. It is the second feature film for directors Powell Robinson and Patrick R. Young.

The road trip in the film is taken by siblings Leo (Joey Millin) and Virginia (Madison West), with Leo afraid Virginia is on drugs again. However, Virginia says she was abducted by a cult and “magically” bonded to a man, such that they share thoughts. At one point, she writes in blood on her arm to communicate with the man, who then gives her a GPS location, to which they then travel for days. Also, Virginia says the bond can only be broken if she or the man dies.

Extras include two audio commentaries – one by the directors and editor William Ford Conway; the other by the cast and crew – and a lengthy (78:25) making-of, filled with interviews and behind-the-scenes footage. There also are two roundtable discussions – one with young directors, including Robinson and Young (61:50), the other with Millin and West on indie horror (44 min.). Also, there is a brief look at color correction (2:57), as well as a look at Nick Chuba’s score (24:14), a typed general outline of the script and an image gallery. Grade: film 1.5 stars; extras 3 stars

Almost Famous (2000, Paramount Presents, 2 Blu-rays or 2 Ultra HD discs in Steelbook, R/NR, 123/161 min.). Cameron Crowe’s semi-autobiographical film is an often-sweet look at a naïve young writer learning rock and roll journalism while going on tour with an up-and-coming band called Stillwater. This release contains both the theatrical film (R, 123 min.), with new and archival bonus material, and the bootleg version (NR, 161 min.), both remastered from a new 4K film transfer under Crowe’s supervision.

The 15-year-old writer, William Miller is played by the cherubic-faced Patrick Fugit. His mother Elaine is played by Frances McDormand and his sister Anita by Zooey Deschanel. William had done several pieces for rock critic/editor Lester Bangs (Philip Seymour Hoffman playing the real person) and Creem magazine. His writing comes to the attention of Rolling Stone editor Ben Fong-Torres (Terry Chen, playing another real person), who, not knowing how young William really is, asks him to go on the road with Stillwater and write a profile article for the magazine.

The fictional band Stillwater consists of vocalist Jeff Bebe (Jason Lee of many a Kevin Smith film), guitarist Russell Hammond (Billy Crudup of “Watchmen”), drummer Ed Vallencourt (John Fedevich) and bassist Larry Fellows (Mark Kozelek).  (There actually was a real Stillwater, a Southern rock band with three guitarists, that released two albums on Capricorn and was active from 1973 to 1984, but the fictional Stillwater was not based on them, but rather on Bad Company, the Allman Brothers and other bands Crowe used to cover.)

William is originally sent by Bangs to interview Black Sabbath, but he is not allowed backstage because he is “not on the list.” However, when opening act Stillwater arrived, he impresses Russell by knowing their names and giving critical comments about some of their songs, so Russell lets him enter with the band. Meanwhile, outside the venue, William meets a key figure in his life over the next few weeks, namely Penny Lane (Kate Hudson, then 19), who calls herself one of the “Band Aids” rather than a groupie, but she really is a groupie, with married Russell as her willing target. Meanwhile, William falls for Penny.

The film is a delight as William experiences rock and roll on the road via the band’s bus, gaining worldly wisdom while missing his deadlines and high school graduation. (I must admit the some of the film was very familiar to me, as I often was on the list when covering concerts and I once spent a weekend in Kennebunkport with an up-and-coming Maine band, The Blend, who signed with MCA Records in 1978 and were to perform in Portland that weekend. Unfortunately, The Blend never broke nationally and only had one song chart, “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me.”)

There are the usual band dustups, with Russell perhaps looking toward his next band or a solo career, and Jeff jealous of the attention Russell gets. One satirical moment has new t-shirts arrive that show Russell upfront and the rest of the band out of focus behind him. And while the band semi-humorously calls William “The Enemy” as he is a reporter who will write what he sees and hears, they come to treat him with affection, although Russell keeps delaying his one-on-one interview. Noah Taylor (TV’s “Game of Thrones,” “Peaky Blinders”) plays Stillwater’s manager Dick Roswell, while a bearded, nearly-unrecognizable Jimmy Fallon (TV’s “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon”) plays their new label-mandated manager Dennis Hope, who introduces them to flying from gig to gig.

The film was nominated for four Academy Awards, with Crowe winning an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. Both Hudson and McDormand were nominated for Oscars (McDormand has been nominated seven times and won four times, most recently for “Nomadland” as actress and producer). It also was nominated for Best Film Editing (Joe Hutshing and Saar Klein).

The new extras include a Filmmaker Focus with Crowe, in which he tells how Peter Frampton taught Crudup to play guitar and that the film was shot in sequence (8:06); a look at the casting and costumes, including costume tests, casting footage and actors’ comments (12:52); rock school with Frampton and Heart’s Nancy Wilson teaching the actors how to perform as a band (10:48); three extended scenes (9 min.); and 11 short snippets of deleted filmed material (8:53).

The archival bonus material includes audio commentary by Crowe and friends on the Bootleg cut; an introduction by Crowe; a making-of featurette; an interview with Bangs; Crowe’s top albums of 1973; the “Fever Dog” music video; Rolling Stone articles; the featurette “Love Comes and Goes”; B-sides; more of the Cleveland concert; the script; two more featurettes; and the hidden talent Easter eggs. Grade: film. 4.5 stars; extras 4 stars

“Almost Famous” also won a 2001 Grammy Award for its compilation soundtrack. Concurrent with this Paramount Presents Blu-ray and Ultra HD releases, Ume has issued several new versions of the soundtrack, including an Uber Box set of five CDs, seven LPs and a 7-inch single of “Fever Dog.” The expanded soundtrack includes songs from The Beach Boys, Joni Mitchell, Led Zeppelin, Neil Young & Crazy Horse, The Who and Yes, plus all the songs created for Stillwater, most written for the movie by Cameron Crowe, Nancy Wilson and Grammy Award-winning guitarist Peter Frampton. The Uber Box includes bonus items such as a 40-page photo book and memoir housed in a film-prop-replica of William Miller's high-school notebook, complete with writings by Crowe, Wilson and cast and crew members; the first-ever complete Miller cover story on Stillwater as a 1973 Rolling Stone newsprint; two replica ticket stubs from Stillwater's San Diego and Cleveland concerts; and a Stillwater tour poster. Exclusively available only in the Uber Box is a Stillwater Cleveland concert poster and a backstage poster; six film-prop-replica backstage passes (some seen throughout the film); three film-prop-replica business cards for Dick Roswell (Stillwater Road manager), Lester Bangs (Creem magazine) and Ben Fong-Torres (Rolling Stone magazine); and three photo prints of cast members.

Among the 103 audio tracks are numerous clips of dialogue released for the first time: including the promise from William's sister Anita that "One day you'll be cool," and crackling exchanges between William and Creem magazine rock critic Lester Bangs, the real-life mentor who offered early encouragement to then-teenaged rock fan Crowe to pursue his desire to write about the music he loved.

The box set points out how exceptional the “Almost Famous” soundtrack was and remains. Crowe arranged for a dedicated remix and edit of the Who's "Amazing Journey/Sparks" instrumental from their rock opera "Tommy" and live album "Live at Leeds." For another scene, Crowe had grabbed a bootleg live recording out of his stash for Neil Young's "Cortez the Killer" from a 1999 show, which Young recently unearthed from his extensive archive and newly mixed from the original multi-track analog tape for this release. The set is also highlighted with the inclusion of Elton John's iconic "Tiny Dancer," newly mixed with the cast members singing alongside the song as featured in one of the film’s highlights. For the new release of the soundtrack music, all of Wilson's score music is included, along with 14 score outtakes that did not make the final film. Mike McCready of Pearl Jam played lead guitar on all the Stillwater songs.

Along with the 13-disc Uber Deluxe box, Universal is issuing two six-LP editions — one on black vinyl, the other with colored vinyl discs; a five-CD Super Deluxe set including 102 tracks, 36 of them previously unreleased songs; a separate 12-inch vinyl EP with all six of Stillwater's songs; a Record Store Day exclusive with the seven original demos of the Stillwater songs, five performed by Wilson and two by Frampton; a two-LP vinyl version of the original soundtrack album; and a two-CD Deluxe Edition of the original soundtrack.

Your Honor (Showtime/CBS/Paramount, 3 DVDs, NR, 9 hours, 24 min.) and Defending Jacob (Paramount, 3 DVDs, NR, 6 hours, 43 min.). These two TV miniseries are very closely related in theme, with parents seeking to protect their son from suspicion of a crime or from consequences of a crime. Both feature strong acting, intriguing plots that start to lose their way a bit, and endings that I found personally disappointing and overly harsh.

The better of the two is “Your Honor,” with Bryan Cranston (TV’s “Breaking Bad”) superb as Judge Michael Desiato of New Orleans, whose teenage son Adam (a very sympathetic Hunter Doohan) is involved in a hit-and-run. Desiato, a paragon of justice but with an eye for seeing beyond the obvious, has to resort to lies and coverups to protect Adam after, when he is about to turn Adam into the police, he learns the victim was the son of vicious local gangster Jimmy Baxter (Michael Stuhlbarg of HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire”) and his vengeance-demanding wife (Hope Davis as Gena), who initiates some collateral damage among a Black family.

Adam and Michael are still reeling from the death of their mother/wife, so there is even more emotional pressure to preserve what they have left of their family. I’m not so sure I really ever bought damaged Adam getting close to the sister of his unintended victim. It is too much playing with fire.

In “Defending Jacob,” Chris Evans (Captain America of the Marvel films) plays Andy Barber, an assistant district attorney in a small Massachusetts town whose 14-year-old son, Jacob (Jaeden Martell), is suspected of killing a fellow student, after finding the body and being known for having shown a knife around school. Michelle Dockery (TV’s “Downton Abbey”) plays Jacob’s mother, Laurie. Soon the family is awash in accusations, rumors and stares – so much so that mom begins to think Jacob might be guilty. The Apple TV+ series is actually more about the effects on the accused’s family than it is about solving the murder.

Bonus features include exclusive deleted scenes for “Your Honor” and deleted scenes and looks at the characters and series for “Defending Jacob.” Grade: Your Honor 3.75 stars; Defending Jacob 3.5 stars

Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (Warner Bros., 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray, G, 100 min.). Making its 4K Ultra HD debut in time for its 50th anniversary is this beloved adaptation of Roald Dahl’s 1964 novel, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” starring Gene Wilder as legendary Candy Man Willy Wonka and with Dahl himself penning the script. There are flavorful tunes and visual delights galore. Peter Ostrum plays young Charlie Bucket. Also in the film are Jack Albertson as Grandpa Joe, Roy Kinnear as Mr. Salt, Julie Dawn Cole as Veruca Salt, Leonard Stone as Mr. Beauregarde, Denise Nickerson as Violet Beauregarde, Dodo Denny as Mrs. Teevee and Paris Themmen as Mike Teevee.

The previously-released extras include commentary with the Wonka Kids; featurettes on the story and filmmakers; and four musical sing-alongs. Grade: film 4 stars; extras 3 stars