General note to all before reading this movie review: if you can’t leave your reasoning and common sense behind, stop reading – Wanted is not for you. For everyone else, continue reading – an entertainment guarantee awaits.
Wanted is the story of a young account manager named Wesley Gibson (James McAvoy) who is suffering from general anxiety disorder and works for a fat bitch of a boss in a dead end job. He lives with a half cute girlfriend who would much rather bang his best friend than him. He’s basically a loser. But just when I was nearly lulled to sleep, the movie immediately morphed into fantastic gun battles (think Shoot ‘Em Up) and car chases, both filled with crazy visuals. Russian director Timur Bekmambetov (directing his first Hollywood feature) clearly adapted this comic book miniseries of the same name for those who thrive on action and brutality.
The mayhem starts innocently enough when Wesley visits the local pharmacy for a prescription refill, and ends in the middle of a gunfight between a rogue assassin Cross (Thomas Kretschmann) and a rather sultry anorexic chick named Fox (Angelina Jolie). He soon finds he is a recruit to join an ancient fraternity of assassins, of which Sloan (Morgan Freeman) leads and has (Gunsmith (Common), The Repairman (Marc Warren), The Butcher (Dato Bakhtadze), Jolie and others as members. He learns he has the ability to defy nearly every physical law known to man in such ridiculous ways that it’s hard to not just stop, smile and think fondly of The Matrix. But where that movie focused more on the beauty of the core ability, Wanted ramps it up and dirties it with lots of blood and lots of pain. It is a nice addition.
James McAvoy makes a strong showing with his first crack at the action hero role – he’s noticeably stronger and can maintain the furrowed brow, i.e., the troubled/intense look, with the best of them. Angelina Jolie also impresses in her role as his “motherly” fellow assassin as she zips and pouts through the streets of Chicago in a sheer white cotton dress or figure fitting leather. My only concern was how someone, as anorexic looking as she is, could actually hold and shoot one of those handheld cannons without getting compound fractures in her thin bones. Blanks or no blanks, those guns have a lot of kick! Morgan Freeman does what Morgan Freeman does best. He once again takes on his soft spoken fatherly role, although the character of Sloan has a much meaner streak running through him.
However, even though belief has to be suspended, Wanted suffers greatly due to plot holes galore. Since the movie is supposed to be based in the here and now, there are a few glaring questions that need to be answered. Where are the repercussions for beating the shit out of someone in the office? Doesn’t anyone realize or care that Wesley has fallen off of the face of the earth (surely the IRS would want to speak to him when he gets a sizable donation deposited into his savings account)? There are others, but I think you get the idea. Bekmambetov tries to compensate for these omissions by feeding us a steady diet of action sprinkled with Jolie’s naked derrià¨re and some near nip-slips. It almost works.
All in all, Wanted is an entertaining spectacle nearly from the get go and does not let go until the credits stop rolling. It’s super violent – more slow motion blood and guts scenes than necessary – but the fact that it is well executed makes it easy to get immersed into. Give it a once over, don’t expect the world, and simply see it as a good way to escape from the daily grind.