Release Date: June 27th, 2008 MPAA Rating: R
Director: Timur Bekmambetov Actors: James McAvoy, Morgan Freeman, Angelina Jolie, Terence Stamp, Thomas Kretschmann, Common, Kristen Hager, Chris Pratt
tylistic, violent, innovative, startling, unexpected, and outrageous, Timur Bekmambetov’s “Wanted” has his name written all over it (he previously helmed the Russian fantasy extravaganzas “Night Watch” and “Day Watch”). From the recognizable editing flair to the over-the-top, farfetched action sequences, his film is designed to show fans exactly what they want to see. And whether or not they anticipate the successful, crowd-pleasing moments of good beating out evil (or just plain, satisfying retribution), they most certainly won’t be disappointed.
1000 years ago, a secret organization of elite warriors banded together, having recognized and nurtured a specific, unparalleled skill. Capable of controlling abnormally high amounts of adrenaline, these gifted humans could move faster, think quicker, and bend the limitations of physics. And so they became assassins. Dubbing themselves the Fraternity, the small faction let fate decide whom their targets would be, setting out to rid the world of the worst it had to offer.
In present day, Wesley Gibson (James McAvoy) is an apathetic jellyfish – a wimp who uncaringly allows others to trample on his life. His boss obnoxiously reprimands him, while his best friend is cheating with his girlfriend. Overanalyzing his pointless existence, Wesley sinks deeper into depression and prescription drugs, simply hoping to drudge his way through each subsequent day. But during a routine trip to the pharmacy, Wesley suddenly finds himself the target of a covert assassin – and in the protection of a mysterious tattooed woman named Fox (Angelina Jolie).
Wesley quickly discovers that his father was one of the most powerful members of the Fraternity – and that he possesses the same skills as the other ancient, superior killers. Finally realizing his purpose in life, Wesley meets the current Fraternity to train with Fox, Gunsmith (Common), Butcher (Dato Bakhtadze, Repairman (Mark Warren), and their leader Sloan (Morgan Freeman). His mission becomes one of destiny when he’s assigned to dispatch Cross (Thomas Kretschmann), the man who murdered his father.
“Wanted” brilliantly weaves its story with highly stylized editing, involving gratuitous amounts of slow-motion, sped-up shots, scenes in reverse, bullet-cams, and a plethora of CG angles as the camera zips around hazardous locales. The visual effects are all spectacular, boasting impressive stunts, car chases, leaps from rooftops, train wrecks, and futuristic weaponry. The action sequences are often undeniably extravagant, but Bekmambetov is careful to make each one as thrilling and unpredictable as possible. From flipping cars over one another on a highway, or arcing the path of bullets, there is a certain believability – or at least acceptance – of impossible actions within the superhuman world crafted from the graphic novel source material (a series by Mark Millar and J.G. Jones).
Jolie takes on a role similar to Schwarzenegger’s protective T-800 from “Terminator 2: Judgment Day,” inciting both mass destruction and teachable moments with casual ease. The supporting cast is correspondingly eccentric: Gunsmith instructs Wesley about anything that fires bullets, the Butcher shows him how to wield a knife, and the Repairman beats him to a bloody pulp. The training montages yield an amusing assortment of specialists, lending to stunning combat choreography and sanguinary spectacle. Portions of the film are incredibly bizarre, while others are white-knuckle thrilling, but with its complex and twisty plot – which transcends typical, brainless actioners – “Wanted” delivers nonstop surprises. Like “The Matrix” before it, this grandly original, hyperkinetic, morbid look at an apocalyptic future uses intense bloodshed, strong violence, harsh language, and every other tool at its disposal to craft a slam-bang action epic.
– The Massie Twins