WANTED is loosely based on the comic mini-series by Mark Millar and J.G. Jones which has been published by Top Cow productions. The movie is directed by Timur Bekmambetov, the filmmaker who gave us the 2 part Russian mystical action series: "Nightwatch" and "Daywatch". I wasn't a fan of those two films so I went in without any expectations. Surprise! This director seemed to have honed his skills; armed with a larger budget, a great cast and a comic series that has a cult following, "Wanted" is a visually stunning action movie that redefines the term "Popcorn Entertainment".
Wesley Gibson (James McAvoy) is an accountant in a dead end job, with a cheating girlfriend and who is flat broke. One day, he encounters a woman named Fox (Angelina Jolie) who after an encounter with a man named Cross (Thomas Kretschmann) takes him to see the head of a secret organization of assassins called "The Fraternity". Sloan (Morgan Freeman) has revealed that Gibson's father was a member and that they want him to follow his father's footsteps. Being his father's son, Wesley has a unique ability to pump more adrenaline into his body than a normal person can. Wesley undergoes extensive training both mental and physical to go face to face with the man who supposedly killed his father; Cross. Little does he know that there is more to everything than meets the eye and truths may lead him to question everything he has come to believe.
"WANTED" is an adrenaline-pumping, fast-paced, soda-slurping, hyper-kinetic solid action film that relies on its visual execution. The way it is shot is directed at our visual senses with outlandish action sequences that is both sexy, dynamic and nearly as groundbreaking as the original "Matrix". This is definitely the film's main draw as the director immerses you into the sequences that looks enchanting, sexy and downright COOL. Once Bekmambetov sets things up, the audience will be treated to one of the most impressive action sequences I've been privy to less than 5 minutes into the film. It was a great move in part of the director, to wake the viewer up and make sure he has your attention for its entirety with a large exclamation point. The film is not pretentious--it knows exactly what it's aiming for.
Now, there is also more to the film that first meets the eye. The film has an effective plotline. These highly trained assassins whose skills borders on being superhuman are not simple killers who get paid to do a job. They depend on mysticism in order to decide who lives and who dies. The tapestry has a close relationship to Norse Mythology's "Weave of FATE" According to which, the three Norns were responsible for weaving the future of man and Gods alike. Well, according to Norse Mythology anyway. Some viewers may argue that this may be a little far-fetched that there should always be someone to pull the strings; well, that's where the film also becomes a morality play. The film has bits of the "revenge" formula but it doesn't really hurt its proceedings.
Wesley Gibson is a simple guy with no ambitions so how does one train him to awaken his hidden capabilities? Simple, first beat the tar out of him. I mean beating him ala-"Fight Club". This may be a step backward to some, but for me I thought it made sense. Some Zen techniques have proven that pain can be used as a tool to chip away the useless things. Adrenaline can be a magical thing, believe it or not. The filmmakers need to be complemented that they picked an actor like McAvoy instead of an ultra-cool personality like Jason Statham. McAvoy maintained that everyday guy image and I appreciated the fact that the screenwriter took the time to develop his character. Gibson is a pitiable character and we saw how he was molded into a highly skilled assassin which was very admirable. Gibson became a different person and he doesn't look like someone intimidating that would allow him to blend in.
It is always good to have Morgan Freeman and having Angelina Jolie around doesn't hurt either. Freeman is his usual sympathetic self and Jolie is her usual mysteriously sexy self. Jolie's character "Fox" is a woman driven into the Fraternity for her own reasons. We saw glimpses of her past but it doesn't really explain much about her which maintains her aura of mystery.
The film does have its faults and some viewers may say that it follows some "already" established formulas; while this may be true, the film does work. Hey, it sure helps when you add an army of lethal rats stoked on peanut butter and explosives. The "curving" of bullets theory may seem a bit over the top but, hey, snipers have been curving a bullet's trajectory when a target is hundreds of yards away. There are also some great bits that comes out of the comic book. The shooting the wings off the fly would satisfy comic book fans. There are nice bits of humor dispersed throughout the film but it abandons it soon enough when the proceedings become all business.
"WANTED" is full of familial vengeance, epiphanies, explosions and rock-solid shoot-outs that borders on insanely cool but also utterly insane. There is an overload of nasty violence and mild gore that would be cause for praise. Shooting through a blown away jugular? Cool. Amid all the violence and comic book mayhem the film finds a soul and the effective twists makes "Wanted" a very rewarding experience.
Just what it is that happens when you become the one thing you fight against?
Recommended! [3 ½ Out of 5 Stars]
Note: look at the name on the cubicle. J.G. Millar--sound familiar?
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