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10 Biggest Changes Those Who Wish Me Dead Makes To The Book

Summary

  • The movie adaptation of Those Who Wish Me Dead centers on Angelina Jolie’s character, Hannah, while the novel focuses on teenager Jace Wilson.
  • In the movie, Connor’s father, Owen, uncovers incriminating information; in the novel, Jace is a witness in a murder case.
  • Ethan and Allison are Connor’s relatives in the movie, but, in the book, they run a wilderness survival program and are not related to Jace.


Taylor Sheridan’s adaptation of Those Who Wish Me Dead makes several key changes to the book on which it’s based — for better or worse. Penned by best-selling writer Michael Koryta, the 2014 novel of the same name provided the basis for the feature-length film, but, in many ways, the two stories share very few characteristics. Even though Koryta is credited as one of the screenplay’s co-writers, the Those Who Wish Me Dead movie just uses the book’s engaging Montana setting, propulsive forest-fire plotline, and several of the main characters — though most are grafted onto the film in name only.

The 2021 action-thriller stars Angelina Jolie as Hannah, one of Those Who Wish Me Dead‘s smokejumpers. A hardened survivor, Hannah worked with her fellow smokejumpers to construct fire lines (or firebreaks) — gaps in vegetation and other combustibles that help slow a fire’s progress. After suffering a terrible loss, a guilt-ridden Hannah is posted at a remote fire lookout tower, and, by chance, stumbles upon a wayward young boy, Connor (Finn Little), who’s being hunted by assassins. Set against the backdrop of an out-of-control forest fire, Those Who Wish Me Dead marks Angelina Jolie’s action-movie comeback.


10 The Film Follows Angelina Jolie’s Hannah From The Start

Teenager Jace Wilson Is The Protagonist Of The Those Who Wish Me Dead Novel

Angelina Jolie in a firefighting suit in Those Who Wish Me Dead.

While early sequences in the film set up Connor’s plotline, Those Who Wish Me Dead makes Jolie’s Hannah its main character. In the novel, teenager Jace Wilson is the protagonist, which makes for a fresh narrative framing. It’s no surprise that the movie puts Jolie, its big-name action-movie star, at the center of the story, but it definitely carves out a unique narrative that, from the jump, is drastically different from the source material. Centering the project on Hannah also brings the movie’s theme of redemption into sharper focus.

9 Connor’s Father Owen Has Incriminating Information

The Book’s Killers Are After Jace For Witnessing A Murder

Finn Little as Connor and Jake Weber as Owen drive in a car in Those Who Wish Me Dead

A forensic accountant in Florida, Owen Casserly (Jake Weber) believes that he and his son, Connor, will be the next targets in a series of contracted killings that began with the death of Owen’s boss. Allegedly, Owen’s superior, a Florida district attorney, died in an accidental gas explosion. Just as Owen suspects, it was a plotted killing; he uncovered something pretty incriminating about a political heavyweight — maybe several. In the book, the Connor character — a teenager named Jace Wilson — is a witness in a murder case, which, in turn, puts his life in danger.

8 Ethan & Allison Are Connor’s Relatives In The Movie

In The Novel, Ethan & Allison Run A Wilderness Survival Program

Medina Senghore as Allison crouches next to Jon Bernthal as Ethan in Those Who Wish Me Dead

To escape a certain death, Owen and Ethan head to Montana, hoping to seek refuge with Connor’s uncle, Ethan (Jon Bernthal), and his partner, Allison (Medina Senghore). Ethan is a Deputy Sheriff in Park County, while Allison is something of a survivalist herself. Living out near the Montana woods, the couple are friends with smokejumpers and hotshots, including Hannah. In the book, Ethan and Allison aren’t related to Jace, who changes his name to Connor to avoid being tracked down by the murderers.

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7 Connor’s Dad Brings Him To Montana

Jace’s Parents Entrust His Safety To Ethan & Allison

Connor (Finn Little) sits by a fire in Those Who Wish Me Dead

In the Those Who Wish Me Dead movie, Owen goes on the run with his son. Shortly after the duo arrive in Montana, the assassins, Jack (Aidan Gillen) and Patrick (Nicholas Hoult), ambush them on a mountain road. In true action movie fashion, the car flips off the road and Owen entrusts Connor with the evidence he collected. After Connor flees the scene, presumably to track down his uncle, the assassins kill Owen. In the book, Jace’s parents can’t put him in witness protection because the murderers have friends in law enforcement. Instead, they send Jace to Ethan and Allison’s Montana-based wilderness survival program for troubled kids.

6 Jack & Patrick Are Assassins For Hire In The Movie

The Book’s Jack & Patrick Blackwell Are Murderers

Jack and Patrick standing on the road in Those Who Wish Me Dead

As evidenced by Tyler Perry’s Those Who Wish Me Dead cameo as a mysterious crime boss, Jack and Patrick are professional assassins. Presumably, they’ve been hired by the politicians who would be irrevocably incriminated by Owen’s newfound evidence. In the novel, the Blackwell brothers are murderers, not necessarily hired guns. They also have a unique, robotic way of speaking — something they do even when they’re about to commit a truly heinous act. While the movie’s versions of Jack and Patrick are relentless, they aren’t as sinister as their novel counterparts.

5 Connor Meets Hannah First In The Film

Jace & Ethan Take Off Into The Woods In Those Who Wish Me Dead’s Book

After her fire lookout tower is struck by lightning, Hannah is left without any communications. Instead of waiting around, she goes on patrol and runs into the wayward Connor. Scared to death, Connor explains that assassins are tailing him, and Hannah takes it upon herself to protect him. At first, they head to Ethan and Allison’s house — though that plan goes south quickly. In the book, the Blackwell brothers infiltrate the small Montana town, inching closer to Jace’s location. Eventually, Ethan and Jace flee into the forest and head to Hannah’s fire lookout tower — a kind of reversal of the movie’s plot.

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Those Who Wish Me Dead Review: Drama Is Suspenseful, But Lacks Strong Plot

But while the film has all of the makings of a memorable neo-western and the protagonists are worth rooting for, its premise is lacking and vague.

4 Jack & Patrick Start The Forest Fire In The Movie

The Forest Fire Is Unrelated To The Book’s Murderers

Nicholas Hoult as Patrick levels a gun at Hannah in a burning forest in Those Who Wish Me Dead

The Those Who Wish Me Dead book makes a pretty big deal about it being fire season and storm season. That said, it’s no surprise when a forest fire and an intense electrical storm bear down on the Montana wilderness. In the film, a forest fire feels inevitable too, especially given Hannah’s past, but Jack and Patrick have a hand in creating the disaster. In order to distract the authorities from Owen’s death, the brothers start a forest-consuming fire with a flare. Having the bad guys spark the disaster definitely adds some extra intensity to the action-packed thriller.

3 Hannah Failed To Save Several People As A Smokejumper

Jace Reminds Hannah Of A Young Boy She Lost

In the film’s opening, viewers get a sense of Hannah’s role as a smokejumper (and thrill-seeker). However, the movie also fills in some gaps, including why Hannah has taken up observation duties at a remote fire lookout tower. Evidently, she failed to prevent the death of her fellow smokejumper — and she let three young campers perish in the fire. Wracked with guilt, the lookout tower is Hannah’s penance. In the book, Hannah protects Jace for a similar reason: he reminds her of a young boy she couldn’t save. In both versions of the story, Hannah is dedicated to protecting her charge from the killers and the looming fire.

2 Connor Is Pretty Helpless In The Movie

Jace Uses His Newly Learned Survival Skills

Medina Senghore as Allison kills an assassin in Those Who Wish Me Dead

Given that Connor is pulled out of his everyday life rather suddenly, he’s not very prepared for life on the run — and neither was his father. This is in stark contrast to the book’s Jace. Although the teenager starts out in a similar place to Connor, he picks up a thing or two at Ethan and Allison’s wilderness survival camp. In fact, his knowledge of the forest’s trails comes in handy as he, Hannah, and Ethan try to avoid both the flames and the Blackwell brothers. While it makes sense that the movie’s Connor is fully reliant on Hannah, it’s nice to see his book counterpart’s agency.

1 The Conspiracy Plotline Was Invented For The Movie

The Book Ending Is Completely Different

Hannah (Angelina Jolie) and Connor (Finn Little) escape a wildfire in a stream in Those Who Wish Me Dead

There’s no doubt that the Those Who Wish Me Dead film adaptation takes quite a few liberties with the source material. While the main characters retain some of their novel counterparts’ traits — Ethan is a survivalist of sorts, Hannah is a smokejumper, and the Blackwells are unfeeling killers — the details are all fresh. The same goes for the plot: the general sketch is the same, but the film invents an entire (and rather under-baked) conspiracy plot in order to raise the stakes. From Ethan’s movie death to Hannah’s decision to wait out the blaze in a river, Those Who Wish Me Dead‘s ending is completely different.

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