Jason Statham as Nick Wild, bodyguard-for-hire
Las Vegas, Christmas 2013
Film: Wild Card
Release Date: January 14, 2015
Director: Simon West
Costume Designer: Lizz Wolf
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Following a request I received via my Instagram account last November, today’s post explores the Jason Statham action thriller Wild Card, coincidentally released five years ago today. The movie was a remake of the 1986 movie Heat starring Burt Reynolds and adapted by William Goldman from his own novel, not to be confused with Michael Mann’s heist epic released nine years later.
Despite Wild Card‘s less than stellar reviews and box office returns, it was an interesting experience, watching a familiar and eclectic cast through a movie that took a surprisingly understated approach for an era where action movies tend to rely on excessive CGI and explosive value, weaving through various genres and plot directions with our taciturn protagonist. Wild Card also inverts the expectations of its Sin City setting, eschewing the flashy and famous Strip in favor of the seedier downtown Las Vegas where our nearly over-the-hill tough guy would no doubt feel more at home. A movie set in Mafia-controlled Las Vegas is hardly a new concept, but Wild Card offers a new, subdued twist on this familiar trope, more in the spirit of Wayne Kramer’s The Cooler than Scorsese’s Casino. (Okay, so there’s not much subdued about Statham jamming a diner knife through a thug’s open mouth, but… bear with me.)
Statham stars as Nick Wild, the film’s reinvention of Reynolds’ Nick Escalante from Heat (though Statham is still billed as Nick Escalante in certain places), who makes ends meet by “chaperoning” gamblers like the self-admitted wimp Cyrus Kinnick (Michael Angarano) to support his own gambling addiction. After picking up Cyrus from Caesars Palace, Nick drives his new client around town in his gold ’69 Ford Torino GT to the tune of “Please Come Home for Christmas”. Sensing that the inexperienced Cyrus is intimidated by casinos on the Strip, Nick takes them downtown to the Golden Gate Hotel & Casino, where he sarcastically jokes to his blackjack-dealing friend Cassandra (Hope Davis) that:
This is the highlight of my career. I’m protecting a Fiji drinker who bets $10 on a single roll of the dice.
In the back of Nick’s mind is the argument he had with his friend, an escort named Holly (Dominik García-Lorido) who had been brutally raped the previous night and had asked Nick for his help in tracking down her attacker. After wrestling with his conscience, Nick dons a Santa hat and heads up Fremont Street to confront the man, psychotic gangster Danny DeMarco (Milo Ventimiglia, pre-This is Us) in his suite at the Golden Nugget. Nick subdues Danny and his two goons, calling Holly to come visit her attacker with a pair of garden shears. She gets not only her vengeance but $50,000 that she splits with Nick to the extremely on-the-nose music queue of Barrett Strong’s Motown classic “Money (That’s What I Want)”.
The next day, his share of the fifty grand burning a hole in his pocket, Nick returns to the Golden Gate and plants himself at Cassandra’s blackjack table, where he eventually racks up the $500,000—$506,000, he clarifies—that he needed to leave Las Vegas… a wish that became imperative after his role in Danny’s humiliation and emasculation the previous night. The half-million will buy him five years of freedom, sailing through Corsica, but the gambling addict in Nick can’t resist the chance to turn his guaranteed five years of freedom into enough “fuck-you money” that he’ll never need to return to Vegas. “You’re not supposed to like Vegas,” he advises Cyrus. “It’s just this creeping virus people get sometimes.”
As you may have expected, the “one last score” tactic fails miserably, leaving Nick completely broke… until deus ex machina sweeps in via a grateful Cyrus offering him millions of dollars in exchange for lessons in bravery. Nick scoffs at the offer and returns to the bar, where two of Danny’s thugs are on hand and ready to test Nick’s own bravery. Fed up, Nick not only wallops the two henchmen but the scores to follow, juxtaposed by The Drifters’ doo-wop rendition of “White Christmas” on the soundtrack.
What’d He Wear?
Aware that he needs to provide an intimidating presence for his nighttime role as a bodyguard to Las Vegas’ most vulnerable gamblers, Nick Wild hangs up the earthy corduroy car coat he wears during the day in favor of a black leather blazer, the very type of jacket celebrated by GQ‘s Megan Gustashaw in February 2018 for making its “slow, impossible comeback” thanks to HBO’s The Deuce and stars like Daniel Craig, Jeff Goldblum, and Zayn Malik. Gustashaw hypothesizes that the swagger required to wear a leather blazer with the expected panache makes it difficult to pull off and thus not as timeless as staples like Harrington jackets or pea coats. Leather blazers can also suggest a connection to organized crime, as exemplified by Ray Liotta’s brown jacket in Goodfellas and the black leather blazer sported by James Gandolfini across four seasons of The Sopranos.
Though it may be more accurate to describe these as sport jackets than blazers, leather outerwear with lapels and lounge jacket-inspired styling have been colloquialized and marketed as “leather blazers”, for better or worse, over the last few decades. Indeed, Statham’s screen-worn jacket shares the general characteristics and cut of an unstructured blazer or sports coat… it just happens to be made from black pebbled leather.
The jacket’s notch lapels roll to a two-button front. The back is detailed with a gently pointed yoke, similar to a classic Western ranch jacket, with a seam splitting the center of the back down to the half-belt around the waist.
The jacket has three patch pockets on the outside: one breast pocket with a rounded bottom and two larger pockets on the hips. Aside from the leather material, the sleeves are the most notable deviation from traditional lounge jacket styling, finished not with buttons but with zippers on the inside of each cuff that extend about six inches up the forearm.
Due to its cyclical popularity, leather blazers and sport jackets aren’t as ubiquitous as the flight jacket or moto jacket, but establishes leather retailers like Overland and Wilsons Leather each offering notch-lapel jackets as of January 2020. For the more frugal shopper, there are wider selections on Amazon—from lesser-known brands like BGSD, Decrum, Leather Hubb, or REED—all in the sub-$200 range.
If you’re truly looking for a Wild Card-inspired look, you’ll need to continue your search to find a jacket detailed with the prominent broken stitch along the edges and seams of Statham’s screen-worn jacket, from the lapels and pockets to the sleeves and back. Replicas of Nick Wild’s jacket are a mainstay on sites like FilmsJackets.com, J4Jacket.com, and Sky-Seller.com, though I can’t speak toward the quality of these outlets.
For his first night “chaperoning” Cyrus and confronting Danny DeMarco, Nick wears a faded black geometric-printed shirt, patterned in a complex but neat taupe lattice that creates a series of alternating octagons and squares, the latter filled in cream with a black center square. The shirt has a point collar, front placket, breast pocket, and button cuffs.
Nick returns to the Golden Gate casino the following night wearing what appears to be a normal gray button-up shirt… until he removes his jacket and reveals unique suede detailing to resemble the effect of a shoulder holster. The “holster” is an elephant gray suede patch of fabric that curves around the left shoulder and extends across the top of the back to the right shoulder, where it hooks under the arm with a slim gray strap, complete with an adjustable sliding buckle. The rest of the shirt is considerably more ordinary with a point collar, a front placket with smoke gray plastic buttons, and two-button squared cuffs.
Nick wears a pair of dark blue denim jeans with belt loops, the traditional five-pocket layout, and a slim leg that bunches at the shin around the top of each boot, an unsightly occurrence that could have been avoided by opting for a fuller fit or a boot cut, though this was less fashionable in the mid-2010s than the slimmer fit. He wears a dark brown leather belt with a large single-prong buckle and dark brown alligator boots with buckled side straps like the classic engineer boots worn by James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause.
On a thin silver necklace around his neck, Nick wears a large silver pendant that often falls out over the unbuttoned top of his shirt, particularly during the scene in Danny DeMarco’s suite. The pendant appears to be adorned with a cross overlaying an upward-facing arrow, flanked on each side by an angel’s wing.
Nick wears a chunky two-toned ring on the middle finger of his right hand. The etched gold band is supported by large silver-toned shoulders that add girth to the ring, flaring out under the setting of the large dark stone.
What to Imbibe
Nick Wild has no patience for Cyrus’ standing orders of Fiji water (or Cyrus’ logic that the square bottles keep them from falling off the table), instead fueling his nights in the casino with double vodka on the rocks, presented with a lemon twist and poured from a square-shaped bottle with a red Russian label.
How to Get the Look
Nick Wild patrols Las Vegas in an indubitably distinctive outfit from his uniquely detailed leather jacket and shirts to his ornate jewelry and eye-catching boots, perhaps a surprisingly fussy (or at least affected) look for a mob-connected tough guy.
- Black leather sport jacket with broken edge stitching, notch lapels, single-breasted 2-button front, patch breast pocket, patch hip pockets, zip-up cuffs, and half-belted ventless back
- Black geometric-patterned long-sleeved shirt with point collar, front placket, breast pocket, and button cuffs
- Dark blue denim slim-leg jeans
- Dark brown leather belt with large rectangular steel single-prong buckle
- Dark brown alligator engineer boots with buckle straps
- Silver-toned “angel wings” pendant on thin silver necklace
- Etched gold and silver ring with dark stone
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check out the movie.
God, what a thing when luck comes callin’.