If You’re Pro-Hitler And Hate Women, Prepare To Feel The Wrath of Becky

Movies Reviews Lulu Wilson
If You’re Pro-Hitler And Hate Women, Prepare To Feel The Wrath of Becky

Clout-chasing tankie and dimwitted conspiracy theorist Jackson Hinkle declared this past April that “Gen Z is pro gun.” He was trying to be clever, and should’ve thought twice. Gen Z is demonstrably not pro gun, the only exception being one that proves the rule: Becky, Lulu Wilson’s mononymous psychopathic anti-hero protagonist of 2020’s Becky and its new follow-up, The Wrath of Becky. Becky loves guns, but mostly because they do handy work of blowing away white supremacists.

Hinkle and Becky wouldn’t get along especially well. Granted, Becky doesn’t get along with anyone other than her Cane Corso pooch, Diego, and Elena (Denise Burse), her unofficial custodian and perhaps the only human worthy of her respect. The Wrath of Becky picks up a few steps ahead of where Becky left off, skipping past the police interrogation that concludes the latter to establish her as a ward of the state in the former. This ill-suits Becky, who’d rather be anywhere than under the authorities’ watchful eye; Wrath opens as our rage-happy lead suckers a Christian couple with enough performative treacle to rot their teeth, then makes off in the middle of the night.

Elena shares Becky’s intolerance of bullshit; they bond quickly over this common allergy plus a love of good coffee. Then Becky runs afoul of a gang of Christofascists, and her honest try at a new normal is foiled. In Becky, the bad guys were workaday Neo-Nazis (led by an unexpectedly effective Kevin James). In The Wrath of Becky, it’s the Noble Men, a direct nod to a certain real-life terror group currently in headlines (not to mention prison). Three of these pricks meet Becky at her day job, waitressing at a diner where she fantasizes about murdering obnoxious customers; she takes exception to their politics and spills coffee on one of them, and they in turn break into Elena’s house, blow her head off, and kidnap Diego.

That logline colors the film as a Gen Z John Wick; we don’t have data on how Zoomers feel about mindless ultraviolence, but the wholesale slaughter of hatemongers is a victimless crime, particularly when orchestrated with a total absence of pretense. Directors Matt Angel and Suzanne Coote, taking over for previous directors Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion and tagging in with previous writer Nick Morris to co-write the sequel’s script, keep the premise simple: Fascists are horrible; let’s go kill ‘em all. The Wrath of Becky is “about” meaningful themes and ideas and events as a begrudging and unavoidable consequence of basing its heavies on the Proud Boys; it isn’t actually about anything other than the sheer titillating pleasure of watching the bad guys get dead. Nothin’ wrong with that!

The Wrath of Becky may not be apolitical, but it isn’t interested in offering any deep reads on American politics. It’s an exploitation film that’s primed for its moment, and at the same time in a conversation with genre cinema’s past, where explicit relentless carnage makes up the core entertainment and any greater significance that viewers might clean from it is purely a happy coincidence. Of course Angel and Coote are making a point with their laxly veiled disdain for the Proud Boys. But their point, no more and no less, is that the Proud Boys fill a body count nicely, and if you feel guilty for getting kicks watching Becky annihilate them, well: Don’t.

It’s possible to fuse pulp with prestige while still saying smart things about the seismic political shifts required for creeps like the Proud Boys to skitter from the rocks they live under and infest society’s better elements. The Wrath of Becky makes no such effort. It’s built to thrill and made for chuckles, offset by Seann William Scott’s looming menace. Scott fulfills the same function as James in Becky: The funnyman stepping into the role of the heavy, uncovering the grim, callous side tucked in that persona. As the Noble Men’s leader, ex-soldier Darryl, Scott puts on upright airs to cover the character’s psychopathy. He’s all about brotherhood, and the Noble Men’s mission (in this case, the targeted assassination of an Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez stand-in). That detail graduates Becky from “avenging bystander” to “action hero,” a designation with more intention than the first. 

Wilson’s screen presence has expanded greatly since Becky, and her physicality matches her up well against Scott’s straight-faced intimidation. They’re a classic pairing, like the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote, prey and predator in a reverse relationship: We know who’s supposed to be hunting who, but our expectations are continually upended with gory comedy. That The Wrath of Becky offers slapstick married with a kill tally and not much else is a feature, not a flaw. Sometimes an 80-minute middle finger flipped at the domestic terror group responsible for an attempted coup on America’s capitol is subtext enough to justify the exercise, though maybe in this case, it’s just text. That Angel and Coote conduct the action with confrontational style and a steady eye for violent excess makes the experience all the better. 

Directors: Matt Angel, Suzanne Coote
Writers: Nick Morris, Matt Angel, Suzanne Coote
Starring: Lulu Wilson, Seann William Scott, Denise Burse, Jill Larson, Michael Sirow, Matt Angel, Aaron Dalla Villa, Courtney Gains, Kate Siegel
Release Date: May 26, 2023

Bostonian culture journalist Andy Crump covers the movies, beer, music, and being a dad for way too many outlets, perhaps even yours. He has contributed to Paste since 2013. You can follow him on Twitter and find his collected work at his personal blog. He’s composed of roughly 65% craft beer.

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