Wanted (2008)

James McAvoy takes on his first major action role in Wanted, this summer's first over the top special effects extravaganza. We have already seen plenty of movies this summer that are action packed and often unbelievable, but only Wanted and it's total disregard for the irrefutable laws of physics made my jaw drop and my eyes widen. McAvoy stars as Wesley Gibson, a bored accountant with a wretched boss, a cheating girlfriend, and no discernible talents that separate him from the faceless crowd of people that work in the cubicles around him. But Wesley's life soon becomes a lot more exciting after a fateful trip to the supermarket. While picking up his annual refill of anxiety medication, he gets caught in the crossfire between two assassins, Fox (Angelina Jolie) and Cross (Thomas Kretschmann). After a well shot car chase, Fox rescues Wesley and brings him to The Fraternity, a group of elite assassins that has been in existence for centuries. Members of the Fraternity have been trained to perform the amazing (and physically impossible) feat of curving bullets to hit targets at any angle. Wesley is then introduced to Sloan (Morgan Freeman), the leader of the Fraternity. Sloan tells Wesley his father was killed by Cross, the assassin that was in the supermarket. Cross had gone rogue and began shooting down Fraternity members one by one. Now he wanted Wesley to hone in his unknown ability to become a great assassin like his father, and track down Cross before he destroys the Fraternity completely.

The last time I saw James McAvoy was in 2006's The Last King of Scotland. In that performance, he proved to me that he was an acting force that would rip through Hollywood like a storm. I was surprised he did not receive an Oscar nomination along with Forest Whitaker in that film. Wanted is a total change of direction for the Scottish actor, and he handles the task like a seasoned professional, really falling into the persona of an ass kicking machine. Although he couldn't quite deliver those one line catch phrases that every action hero always has, he did deliver everything else needed to create an interesting and likeable character that can make even the most gruesome murder look awesome. McAvoy is a tremendous talent and he will carry on a successful career as both an action star and serious actor for many years to come. Angelina Jolie, no stranger to the action hero role takes up the supporting spot in Wanted as Fox, the assassin who trains Wesley to become a killing machine. Her character was a bit one dimensional, but she played the part well and brought what was needed to the table. I'm one of the few men in the world who don't find Jolie attractive, so I couldn't really appreciate the whole "sexy empowered female" aspect of the character. Morgan Freeman is Fraternity leader Sloan and much like Jolie, doesn't bring a lot of dynamics to the film. He plays the part that he was hired to play and that was all. Wanted was basically James McAvoy's opportunity to show off his slick action hero side. That's good enough for me.

Wanted marks the American film debut of Russian-Kazakh director Timur Bekmambetov. I do not know what Bekmambetov's Night Watch series is like because I have not seen it, but from watching Wanted I can tell that he is skilled in the art of overblown action sequences. Him and Michael Bay should hang out. The use of slow motion during fight scenes surprisingly does not get boring and dry, which is good because that effect is used often. The way cars fly through the air in such awkward fashions and then miraculously land right side up is a bit too much like a video game, because it is simply not possible. But plausibility has no business being in this film. It's main purpose is to inspire awe and make ones' adrenaline start pumping, and that's what it did. Although the action sequences in Wanted were top notch, the pacing of the film was a bit erratic. I think Bekmambetov became too intent on keeping the film fast paced, and as a result created a movie that felt rushed. I never thought I would say this about a movie, but perhaps he should have made the film 15 minutes longer to make the transitions a bit easier to handle. The story's progression developed fully, but in a very hasty fashion that did irk me a little bit. Wanted was written by Michael Brandt and Derek Haas, the team that wrote the amazing 3:10 to Yuma remake and the not so amazing 2 Fast 2 Furious sequel. Adapting from the comic book series, Brandt and Haas did an excellent job of creating interesting dialogue and keeping a (somewhat) sensible storyline. The twist ending that they wrote was not predictable, and it made for a satisfying resolution.

Now, I really did truly enjoy Wanted. It is one of the best action films I have seen recently. But on top of that, I also got a 99 in physics. And I hate to be "this guy", but I can disprove the whole idea of bending bullets with an explanation right now. So I will. (If you are not interested in a science lesson, please proceed to the next paragraph). The laws of motion state that, for example, if a ball enters a semi-circular tube resting on top of a table, it will obviously follow the path of the tube because it has no other choice. But once that ball reaches the end of the tube, it will not continue following the circular path it was on inside the tube. Instead it will simply roll straight at the point where it was released. The same principle applies for a bullet. If you are flicking your wrist and pulling the trigger, the bullet is obviously moving with the gun because it is still inside the barrel. But once the bullet exits the barrel, it does not continue following the path of the gun. It will go straight at the point from which it exits. Unless my physics teacher lied to me, I'm 95% sure that I'm correct.

Laws of physics aside, Wanted is an exciting summer thriller that will astonish you with impressive stunts and sequences. The 110 minute runtime goes by pretty quickly because of the hasty direction I mentioned earlier, so that gives you one good thing from one bad thing. Don't expect anything more than a good time when you go to see Wanted, and if you ask me, a good time is all you should want from a summer film. My rating (8/10)

1 comment:

  1. Just watched this one and I, too, enjoyed it. Ironically enough, though the action scenes are at the forefront, what sticks with me the most is the psychological aspects, how the characters were driven. My favorite -- Jolie's decision at the end. Honor and Code of the assassins wins out. Hurray! Anyway, great site. Your reviews are quite inciteful and effectively expressed. Keep up the great work!

    PS I do believe I will add you to my favorites. Your reviews will help my movie selections :-)


Movies given a 10/10

  • Milk
  • In Bruges
  • Slumdog Millionaire
  • The Dark Knight
  • Iron Man
  • No Country For Old Men
  • The Shining
  • A Clockwork Orange