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[Movie Review] WANTED

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Wanted wasn’t really on my ‘radar’ in terms of this Summer’s Blockbuster line-up. That’s not to say that I was avoiding it because I thought it looked shit or anything like that. I just weighed up what was on offer within the construct of this movie and just pushed it aside as something to catch up on during a bored Friday night once it was out to rent on DVD.

You see, as gorgeous as she is, Angelina Jolie’s tough-girl schtick is starting to bore me a little. And I’m sick of Morgan Freeman phoning in his performances for a pay-cheque. British actors doing clunky American accents annoy me too. And on top of all that, this film’s director, Timur Bekmambetov, made Night Watch and Day Watch – films loved by many, just not by me.

So, you can get the impression that, with all that working against it in my eyes, all the absurd action, gunplay and car-mageddon just drew a “M’eh” from me. But, working day in and day out with adults with learning disabilities and challenging behaviour, I often have to take them out on day trips to places of their choosing. One client of mine wanted to go to the cinema and this is what he chose. Who was I to argue huh?

Wanted should be a big pile of smouldering celluloid dog muck. It should be the year’s “turkey”. It should be the movie to make The Happening look like, I can’t resist the gag sorry, it’s really ‘happening’. The very fact that it is none of those things regardless of its copious flaws is something in itself. This is moronic, crazy, ballastic, almost nonsensical filmmaking and it constantly dances along the line of being entertaining one moment and very, very irritating the next… BUT it is very much a fun experience. It’s goofy, stupid and not something you’ll remember a couple of hours after indulging in it, but it’s fun and you can’t take that away from it.

For those not in the know, Wanted tells the story of Wesley Gibson (James McAvoy), a neurotic accounts manager who works in a small cubical filling out billing reports day in and day out. He allows his boss to treat him like dirt and for his girlfriend to continually cheat on him with his best friend . To cope Wesley pops anti-anxiety pills by the bottle full until one day whilst getting his perscription topped up at the drug store, he meets a beautiful woman, Fox (Angelina Jolie), who changes his life forever.

Fox was sent to protect Wesley from the man who had just killed his father. Fox tells Wesley that his father died yesterday on the rooftop of the Metropolitan Building and that he will be next. Wesley is recruited into the “Fraternity,” a secret society of assassins that his father was a member. Fox must train Wesley to bring out his special powers that he was born with in order to avenge his fathers death. The Fraternity’s leader, Sloan (Morgan Freeman), also teaches Wesley the ways of the group, and Wesley soon becomes an assassin just like his father.  

Timur Bekmambetov can shoot action sequences well but can he do it cohesively within the realms and constrictions of a reality-bound action movie? I think we should wait and see before we go throwing around the hyperbole about him being the “next John Woo” or the “Russian Michael Bay”. The crumpling train sequence is a stand-out moment but there’s more CGI in it then in-camera moments so let’s pass the kudos over to the special effects teams on this movie and not just the director huh?

There’s an interesting (not ‘great’,  but ‘interesting’) twist held within the third act. It doesn’t make the movie wholly recommendable based on that alone but, in an age when we know every beat and every story turn of the likes of Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk, it is nice to go into a movie and just “discover” some elements of it for ourselves.

Every worry I had was warranted though – Angelina Jolie is stunning to look at but delivers nothing that hasn’t already been witnessed in countless other movies, Morgan Freeman does his now patented “gravitas for the dollars” bollocks and, as brilliant as James McAvoy is as an actor, his American twang annoyed me. Worst of all, the movie does the criminal thing for a blockbuster movie to do – it outstays its welcome and starts to become kind of annoying. You leave the cinema kind of thankful for it to have ended as opposed to being on a cinema-induced high. And, when the movie in question isn’t even on that long, you know that something got fucked up in the writing process.

All in all though, as I said, Wanted is fun! There’s not a ‘real’ action moment in the entire movie so if those sort of down-and-dirty Bourne and Bond sort of affairs are your particular “bag” then this may not be for you. Yet, as movies about gravity-defying cars, hot women, bullets that bend in midair and travel round buildings, and ridiculous weaving machines that ‘sew-out’ orders for assassinations go this is probably about as fun as it gets!

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