If you've seen the trailers, then you know what you're getting yourself into with Wanted. The thing that I liked the most about it, though, is that while the trailers showed the marketable "curve the bullet" scene a hundred times, they didn't really ruin anything else for us. Unlike Get Smart, Wanted thrives off of what we didn't see in the previews and gives us one hell of a ride from start to finish.
Director: Timur Bekmambetov
Starring: James McAvoy, Angelina Jolie, Morgan Freeman
Like WALL*E, I was admittedly not excited about seeing Wanted in theaters. I was sure we had seen the best parts in the trailers and I was cynical that the storyline would try too hard to replicate The Matrix. "Meh," I thought, "it's just another movie based on a comic book that I've never read - how good can it be?" But this movie blew into theaters with kicking ass and chewing bubble gum on the agenda, and it was all out of gum.
The story wasn't anything mind-blowing; we've seen this type of thing before. Wesley Gibson, the archetypal loser stuck in a dead-end job, gets his life turned upside down by an incredibly sexy assassin who brings him word of his estranged father's death. After getting over the initial shock that his dad was a member of The Fraternity, a league of assassins created a thousand years ago, Wesley embraces his training in order to kill the man who killed his father. I don't want to go any further into the plot or the stunts or anything because it'll just ruin it for you. [Don't you hate that? When you hear one certain thing about a movie (or see a scene in a trailer) and then you're waiting the whole time for that scene to come so you can just get on with enjoying the movie? I do. That's why I don't read reviews before I see movies anymore. ANYWAY...]
What differentiates this film from others like it is Timur Bekmambetov's vision. The Russian director, responsible for the most lucrative films in that country's history (Night Watch and Day Watch), brings his signature style to America in his Hollywood debut. My first thought after walking out of the theater was "Wanted is this year's Shoot 'Em Up." Like that film, this one doesn't hold back at all on the language, sex, or violence and embraces those things as integral parts of the production.
Angelina Jolie fittingly plays a character named Fox, who embodies the lifestyle that Wesley (McAvoy) can't even fathom: sex, bullets, and speed. She actually did a better job than I thought she would, and whew - she hasn't looked that good in a long time. Morgan Freeman (who hasn't been bad in a movie since...ever) reigns as the enigmatic leader of The Fraternity, and plays the part effortlessly. The dude is so solid. He's a great addition to any film, automatically upping the quality level and (I'm sure) influencing his co-workers to step up their game.
Wanted is what you would get if you crushed Swordfish, The Matrix, and Shoot 'Em Up together into one action blowout. It's stylish, sleek, quick-moving, adequately acted, and visually fantastic. Fans of the comic book series by Mark Millar have been vocal about the film's differences to the comic book, perhaps suggesting the film would suffer because of it. But a recent interview with Millar sheds light on the creator's opinion of the final cut of the film: "F***ing hell. I loved it. I could not love it more. It's weird passing your wee baby over to someone else, but this is like putting someone up for adoption and seeing him come back as Einstein." That's a pretty glowing review from the guy who created the work in the first place.
I think this is one of those movies like 300 that pretty much every guy over the age of 4 will love. It's not big on commentary, context, or subtlety, but the "Ass-Kicking Quotient" is through the roof. It doesn't take a film student to realize what's going on in this one: unadulterated summer action throttling us in our seats and then questioning the audience with one of the best closing lines I've heard in 10 years - "What the f*** have you done lately?" Until next time...