Rated R. Click here to view the trailer.
All through my screening of Wanted, I kept a running tally of “ingredient films” that the director and screenwriter used to piece together their final product. It’s starts off with a fairly hefty dose of The Matrix trilogy and the Star Wars saga, a hint of The Fast and the Furious, throws in some Kill Bill, Mission Impossible and Chain Reaction, sprinkles some Bourne trilogy on top for some added zest, garnishes it with a few hints of We Three Kings and Mr. and Mrs. Smith and ends it all with some Office Space to cleanse the palate. There’s also a little bit of Rocky and Saw. That’s just what I could identify and remember in between WHOA! reactions.
But that’s not to say Wanted is derivative or feels recycled. The resulting dish isn’t an instant classic, but it’s fresh, exciting and beats the hell out of the mediocre steak I had for dinner last night.
Fight Club. I forgot to mention Fight Club.
Wanted is meant to be an entertaining, mindless action packed popcorn flick and holy crap does it deliver. Think of as filling a teacup with a firehose; it’s excessive and everyone gets wet, but dad gummit it get’s the job done. The only action scene it is missing – and I do mean the only scene – is a scene where our hero is forced to jump out of an airplane sans parachute. Scratch that. I just remembered he jumps out a train while crossing a canyon.
At one (no several) points we not only see bullets flying in slow-motion ala The Matrix, but we see those bullets penetrate their victim’s heads and see the skin bulging and stretching before eventually giving way to form the exit wound. Yeah.
James McAvoy (Wesley) plays our hero and while he isn’t the heir to Arnold’s throne, he’s a decent action actor. Wesley is a fatherless nobody with a crappy job, crappy girlfriend, crappy best friend and the kind of boss you want to throttle with her own stapler (then again, is there any other kind?) Google his name and you come up empty.
Wesley’s life isn’t going to be boring for long, because Angelina Jolie’s Fox has recruited him as the newest member of the Fraternity. (This where I’m supposed to yammer on about how hot Ms. Jolie is, but she’s not even near my Top 100.)Pledging this Frat may not involve romancing a goat or binge drinking, but it certainly won’t be fun. Even though I praised him for his pluck and stick-to-it-iveness, I’m pretty sure Maxwell Smart wouldn’t have made the cut.
Morgan Freeman plays the wise head of The Fraternity and he along with the rest of the clan take Wesley under their wing so he can one day face the rogue assassin who threatens the very existence of The Fraternity. “Kill one to save a thousand,” Fox says. Something like that.
What is the Fraternity? Glad you asked.
The simplest answer is that they’re a gang of super assassins. The more complex answer is that they’re a pissed off textile union that can curve bullets by inducing panic attacks. They heal their own wounds in bathtubs of Neosporin, live in a castle in downtown Chicago that doubles (triples) as a hide-out, pork warehouse and linen factory. They divine their next targets by examining the thread count in their Egyptian cotton bed sheets and converting that into – OF COURSE! – binary.
Both answers above are correct, and I didn’t even mention the army of explosive mice. You might think the movie is skewing a wee bit silly but it’s a testament to… something… that Wanted still manages to be a serious, legit action movie.
On the down side, the narration feels out of place and it has a few moments of humor that seem out of place. There’s a challenge to the viewer just before the closing credits that’s mildly unsettling. The editing style takes some getting used to, but the special effects are top notch and every member of the cast does a good if not great job, even if we don’t give a rip about them.
Go see it. It’ll will more than tide you over until July 18 and The Dark Knight.
NOTE: If there is any justice in the movie world, the minds that gave of Alien vs. Predator and Freddie vs. Jason would give us The Matrix vs. The Fraternity. Best. Fight. Ever.