Review: Wanted

June 28, 2008 at 6:36 pm 3 comments

poster

Yet another comic book-inspired action film, Wanted thrusts us into the hum-drum life of Wesley Gibson, an ordinary 20-something with a hot blonde girlfriend, an office job, and a goofy bestfriend. The problem is, Wesley hates his life. His job is boring, his boss is a bitch, and his girlfriend is cheating on him with his best friend. Plus, he suffers from these terrible anxiety attacks, which require him to prescribe to medication. Cue Fox (Angelina Jolie), a gorgeous stranger that appears to Wesley at a local pharmacy. She tells him that his dead-beat dad was actually an assassin for The Fraternity, and they want Wesley to find his father’s killer and kill that person.

While not the most original story, this movie more than makes up for it in the visual effects department. Director Timur Bekmambetov, best known for the Russian horror/sci-fi films Day Watch and Night Watch, brings his flair for dizzying action set pieces to American shores. Being touted as the best thing since The Matrix, Wanted is a visual tour-de-force. There’s amazing gunfights, impossible leaps, cars flipping, and trains colliding. It’s literally everything you’ve seen in nearly every action movie of the past 10 years rolled into one.

car

That, however, is where I had some issues. There’s so much going on in some scenes that I wished the filmmakers gave us a chance to catch our breath. I was actually counting the number of seconds each cut was during the shootout at the pharmacy, and then the car chase. The average Hollywood shot lasts around 3 seconds, and I counted barely a second for most shots in that five minute segment of the movie. What I was hoping for was one of those rare long, unbroken takes where we follow the action from one perspective, allowing us to edit with our eyes and take everything in, without jarring us around (they did do this later on in the movie, more on that later).

McAvoy

Jolie

The whole second act is your usual training montage where we see our hero actually become the hero. I liked this, it gave us sometime to process everything that’s happened and to comprehend the story that gets slightly more complicated as the movie goes on. We learn more about The Fraternity, how they came about, and what they do. We also meet the operatives and what their specialty is, and spend some time with Sloan (Morgan Freeman) the leader of the group. However, I started to have a slight problem with the way the second and third acts meshed together. I felt that Wanted could have easily been part one of a two-part story.

two guns

During the second act, Wesley goes on some ‘practice hits’ before he’s tasked with taking down Cross, a rogue member of The Fraternity who killed Wesley’s father. I kept thinking to myself, “This could have easily been its own movie.” I would’ve loved to see the whole first movie devoted to Wesley becoming this badass killer while slowly piecing together the clues about the truth about his father and the circumstances surrounding his death. Then, the second movie would be Wesley going up against his father’s killer and dealing with the choices he made in the first movie.

Freeman

Despite this somewhat rushed storyline and hyperkinetic pacing, there are some truly exciting moments in the movie. The first car chase with Fox hanging from a Dodge Viper and shooting at their pursuers was great fun. There’s also a battle on a moving train that was also very impressive. It is here that I got my wish: an unbroken, nearly ten-second-long take as we watch the train slowly spill off its tracks and into a chasm. Toward the end, we get a gun battle that reminded me a lot like the final scenes in Kurt Wimmer’s excellent Equilibrium, with Wesley running about and just blasting away bad guys all over the place. There’s also a great amount of humor to be found. The jokes at first poke fun at Wesley for being such a loser, and slowly work in favor of him as we see him go from Average Joe to confident bad-ass

The ending deserves notice because it wasn’t what I was expecting, and I mean that in a good way. While not to give away anything, I thought it was inventive and helped bring closure to this part of the story (assuming there’s going to be a sequel). Leaving the theatre, I felt content. I just spent nearly two hours watching mindless, yet inventive action, and that’s exactly what I was expecting. While it’s not as good as something like Iron Man or even The Incredible Hulk, but I can see this being the start of a brand new movie franchise.

7/10

(images from Yahoo!)

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Lauelai  |  July 1, 2008 at 12:56 pm

    We simply agree agree agree on nearly everything when it comes to movies. I like how we both made a reference to Equilibrium (I called Wesley Grammaton Cleric Luke). I guess that’s because we saw a lot of movies together and therefore, have the same general knowledge of movies to refer to.

    You rock. ❤ you!

    Reply
  • 2. Jeanelle  |  August 10, 2008 at 5:26 am

    for real? i HATED this movie. the effects were stunning, indeed, but to a level that was absolutely ridiculous! at least in the matrix we had some point of reference for knowing how and why people could do those extraordinary things with their bodies. here, not so much.
    and the plot was severely lacking. it killed me that the entire movie passed without anyone asking “who works the loom?” or “where do those strings coming in from the window actually come from?”
    and then there was the ending. it was exactly what i was expecting.
    all in all, a pretty lame film in my opinion.
    but what do i know . . . you’re the expert film student!

    Reply
  • 3. littleman00  |  August 10, 2008 at 6:00 am

    I’m actually pretty hesitant in calling this a ‘film’, because I agree that the level of artistry is well below something like ‘The Matrix’ and ‘Equilibrium’. However, I went into the theatre wanting to watch simple, mindless, action and wasn’t expecting any major or minor plot holes to be explained. So, I got what I wanted. It in no way deserves to be considered ‘great’, merely ‘good’ as long as you’re not expecting much. This movie, according to the rating I gave it, is best viewed at home as a rental (unless it’s playing at one of those second-rate dollar theatres).

    Reply

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