‘Those Who Wish Me Dead’ is an adrenaline-fueled ride from start to finish. Set in the Montana wilderness, the movie revolves around the troubled smokejumper Hannah (Angelina Jolie) as she tries to keep a precocious boy named Connor (Finn Little) safe from the two assassins who killed his father, Owen (Jake Weber). The task is made even more precarious because of a wildfire that the killers, Jack (Aidan Gillen) and Patrick (Nicholas Hoult), start to divert the attention of the local authorities.
The film gives ample hints that the killers were hired by powerful and influential people but never explicitly flesh out that part of the plot. Instead, the two assassins serve as the primary antagonists. While this leads to memorable scenes like the one in which Jolie and Hoult are locked in a deadly struggle as a raging inferno surrounds them, the movie does leave its audience with the feeling that it didn’t reveal its most important secret. Here is what you need to know about it.
What’s the Secret? Who Wishes Owen and Connor Dead and Why?
The film establishes early in its runtime that Jack and Patrick’s shadowy employer(s) are ruthless and desperate. The killers pose as gas line workers to get inside the home of Owen’s boss, the district attorney, and then kill everyone in the family, including a child. To hide the deaths, they blow up the house using the very thing they supposedly came to fix — the gas line. When Owen hears about the explosion and the deaths, he knows exactly what has happened and immediately flees from his home in Jacksonville, Florida, with Connor.
His destination is the rural Montana town where Hannah lives. Owen’s brother-in-law, Ethan (Jon Bernthal), also lives there with his wife Allison (Medina Senghore). Ethan is a police officer and a man whom Owen can completely trust. During their travel to Montana, Owen explains their situation to Connor. He worked as a forensic accountant for the DA. His main job was to find discrepancies in people’s finances and deduce if those are connected to any form of extortion, bribery, fraud, embezzlement, money laundering, or corruption. During their latest investigation, he found evidence that could implicate governors and members of Congress.
Owen knows very well that the police won’t be of much help. The DA had police protection but was still killed. So, Owen reaches out to the only person that can possibly help him: Ethan. The problem is that Jack and Patrick figure out that Owen and Connor are heading to the Soda Butte Survival School in Montana, which Allison runs, from a photo they find in Owen’s house. Jack and Patrick take a plane to get ahead of their prey and wait for them in a desolate section of the road they know Owen will take. In the following encounter, Owen is killed, but Connor manages to escape.
When the killers find out that the boy is still alive, they know that it will get only messier from that point onwards. During an impromptu meeting with their boss, Arthur (Tyler Perry), they get the green light to kill anyone that might prevent them from fulfilling their mission. It is apparent that Arthur runs an elite organization (of contract killers) that has been hired by the people that Owen and his boss were investigating. The initial objective is to kill the people involved in the investigation along with their families and destroy all the evidence. But as the kill count starts to increase, Arthur likely reaches out to the employer(s) and convinces them that this is necessary.
What is in the Notes?
While staying at a roadside motel on their way to Montana, Owen pens down information about his findings and gives the notes to Connor. By then, he knows that he will not likely survive this. The only way he can ensure his son’s safety is by giving him the information Connor needs to go to the media. Later, when Connor hands over the notes to Hannah, the stunned look on her face makes it clear that they contain damnable evidence against powerful individuals.
From the conversation between Jack and Arthur, we can presume that Owen likely had copies of all the evidence he and the DA gathered. The notes probably list where to find them and who they implicate. From the moment he learned about the death of the district attorney, Owen wanted to go to the media and reveal his findings to the world. At the end of the film, Connor ensures that his father’s wishes have come true with Hannah’s help.