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Overall Rating
3.35

Awesome: 14.86%
Worth A Look33.78%
Just Average: 31.08%
Pretty Crappy: 12.16%
Sucks: 8.11%

7 reviews, 32 user ratings


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Wanted
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Loom With One Hell Of A View"
5 stars

There is not a single solitary element contained in the 110 minutes that make up “Wanted” that bear even a trace resemblance to the real world that you and I live in. Everything from the laws of narrative coherence to the laws of physics seems to have been bent, twisted or somehow altered from their familiar forms into something out of an especially lurid and goofy comic book--even the physical appearances of co-stars Angelina Jolie and James McAvoy seem to have been chopped, channeled and sculpted by the modern-day equivalent of the Delos Corporation into sleeker and slinkier versions that make for a better fit with the film’s aesthetic sense. Frankly, this is how it should be because if pesky reality was allowed to rub shoulders with the on-screen lunacy for even a second or two, it would remind viewers of just how ridiculous it was and pretty much bring the entire thing to a screeching halt. Thankfully, this doesn’t happen and as a result, we are allowed to view the film for what it is--a work of crackpot genius that is not only one of the best films to emerge from an admittedly disappointing summer season but one of the cheerfully insane, visually extraordinary and compulsively entertaining action blockbusters to emerge from Hollywood in a long, long time.

After a bizarre prologue featuring an extremely bloody game of cat-and-mouse atop the rooftops of Chicago involving gunshot trajectories that even the Warren Commission might find hard to logically explain, the story pauses (though in a film with a pace as relentlessly breakneck as this, “pauses” is at best a relative term) to introduce us to Wesley Gibson (McAvoy), a white-collar schnook who hates his anonymous and essentially meaningless office job, is betrayed by his girlfriend and his best friend and downs anti-anxiety pills by the handful just to make it through the day without screaming or cracking up. Clearly, Wesley appears to be on the fast track for joining the local chapter of Fight Club but before he gets a chance to befoul any clam chowder, his life is forever changed when a gorgeous woman (guess who?) known only as Fox (big surprise) sidles up to him at a pharmacy counter and informs him that a.) she knew his long-lost father, who walked out on him and his mom when he was only four days old, b.) that he was a world-class assassin who was recently killed during the aforementioned prologue and c.) that the man responsible for his death, another crack assassin by the name of Cross (Thomas Kretschmann) is standing in the next aisle over and is about to kill him as well. Naturally, Fox saves Wesley’s life through the ensuing gun battle and car chase through the streets of Chicago and when he comes to hours later in a grungy textile factory on the outskirts of town, he is confronted by the imperious Sloan (Morgan Freeman), who hand him a gun and order him to shoot the wings off of a couple of houseflies buzzing about.

When Wesley pulls off this seemingly impossible trick, Sloan finally begins to explain what is going on. It seems that he, Fox and some others are members of a thousand-year-old organization known as the Fraternity, a group of highly-trained assassins who bump off evildoers around the world in order to keep evil at bay--the theory being that one dead person know is better than a thousand of them somewhere down the line. The names of the targets, by the way, are coughed up by a contraption known as the Loom of Fate and yes, that is exactly what it is. Because of the unique characteristics inherited from his father, such as a 400-beat-per-minute heartbeat when excited (which isn’t really that impressive when you consider that he is in the same room as Angelina Jolie) and the ability to curve bullet trajectories so that they can hit seemingly impossible targets, the Fraternity now wants to recruit Wesley to carry on his father’s work and even present him with Dad’s gun (“He could conduct a symphony orchestra with it,” though my guess is that there probably wouldn’t be enough people left at the end for any possible encores) as a way of further coaxing him into the fold. At first, Wesley rejects the idea of becoming an international assassin but when he tries to return to his humdrum life, he finds that he can no longer do it and after quitting both his job and girlfriend in fairly spectacular fashion, he returns to the Fraternity to train under Fox and perform lower-level killings until he develops the skills for his ultimate goal--to confront Cross, who is picking off members of the Fraternity one by one and whom only Wesley seems to have the ability to stop.

My guess is that long before you got to the words “Loom of Fate,” you pretty much figured out that “Wanted” was exceptionally preposterous even by the often-ridiculous standards of contemporary action filmmaking. Hell, it is based (quite loosely, I understand) on an acclaimed graphic novel series and even by those standards, it seems wilder and woollier than the norm. However, the utter lunacy of the scenario cooked up by screenwriters Michael Brandt & Derek Haas and Chris Morgan is one of the chief reasons why I enjoyed it so much. Although it would seem that coming up with a definitively over-the-top action movie would not require much work in the screenplay department, pulling one these things off so that the humor, the spectacle and the weirdness remain in perfect balance throughout is a lot trickier than it seems--if you do get it right, you can get something along the lines of the pop-art masterpieces of Luc Besson or Wayne Kramer’s underrated “Running Scared” but if you make one wrong move at any time and let the balance get out of whack, you run the risk of winding up with a noisy annoyance along the lines of “Shoot Em Up” or, God help us, “Bad Boys 2.” Right from the start, “Wanted” finds the correct tone of complete ridiculous abandon and never lets up for the next two hours and just when you think that it can’t possibly top itself (such as the knockout chase sequence through the streets of Chicago), it manages to do just that (as with the extended set-piece involving a high-powered train, a car and a treacherous mountain pass) while simultaneously goofing on recent cinematic sagas involving ordinary schlubs who suddenly discover that they possess extraordinary powers. Sure, the entire thing is absurd, especially the stuff involving the Loom of Fate, but it is the kind of absurdity that I can’t help but admire for its sheer audacity, if nothing else. Besides, the day that I can no longer appreciate the simple joys of something along the lines of the Loom of Fate, that is the day that I chuck this gig for good and enter the executive training program at Bloomingdale’s.

Often when a foreign filmmaker celebrated for a highly distinctive cinematic style is lured into coming to Hollywood and working within the confines of the Hollywood studio system, they usually discover to their horror that those personal touches are often the first things to be struck down by studio weasels who are afraid that if a film is too far off the beaten path, it will somehow scare viewers away. Thankfully, in the case of Kazakh-born director Timur Bekmambetov, who made a splash on the international circuit a couple of years ago with the visually flamboyant Russian vampire extravaganzas “Night Watch” and “Day Watch,” he seems to have been left more or less at home by the powers-that-be at Universal to make the same kind of movie that he did at home, albeit with a much larger budget and big-name stars and the result is one of the most flamboyant action epics to hit multiplexes in a while. Virtually every moment of the film contains some type of nifty visual flourish--ranging from impossible car stunts to a final message from Wesley to his hateful co-workers spelled out in a bunch of computer keys and a dislodged tooth flying through the air--that calls attention to itself with the insistence of a little kid who is about to jump off the diving board into the pool and wants you look at him or her RIGHT NOW! In the hands of a lesser filmmaker, this approach could quickly begin to grate after a while but Bekmambetov does it with such unforced excitement and enthusiasm that you can’t help but get caught up in the giddiness as well as you wait to see what spectacle he has to offer up next. Based on his work here, Bekmambetov should automatically catapult him to the top rank of genre filmmakers working today and if this film hits as big as it should, I can’t wait to see what he comes up with for his next project.

That enthusiasm seems to have been infectious because virtually all of the key technical personnel involved with “Wanted” seem to have cranked up their game as well. The cinematography from Mitchell Amundsen, whose previous efforts have included the likes of “Transporter 2” and “Transformers,” and his work here manages to leave even those films look cheap and stodgy by comparison--this is eye candy at its sweetest and as an added bonus, the couple of weeks that the production spent filming in Chicago (after shooting the bulk in Eastern Europe) has yielded some of the best-looking footage of the city to appear in years. Faced with the task of putting together all of the footage into some kind of coherent whole, editors David Brenner (presumably not the comedian) and Dallas Puett have risen to the challenge by managing to keep the film going at a breakneck pace throughout (even the quieter scenes of bonding and background-sharing are done atop a speeding train) while maintaining a certain level of coherence throughout. (Special note should be given to their contributions to the big chase scene through the streets of Chicago, a masterpiece of kinetic filmmaking that deserves to be ranked alongside the final 20 minutes of “The Blues Brothers,” the Union Station shootout in “The Untouchables” and the chase in “Batman Begins” as one of the greatest action scenes filmed in the Windy City.) In fact, the only participants who go all out into joyful excess are the three main stars. This is actually the correct approach as well because if you have them mugging and calling attention to the goofiness surrounding them instead of playing things relatively straight amidst the chaos, the entire film would run the risk of devolving into tiresome self-parody. Although McAvoy, best known for playing the half-man/half-goat in “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” and “Atonement,” may seem like a strange choice to play an action hero but he actually manages to come across as fairly convincing throughout as an ordinary office drone who gets to destroy his conformist lifestyle in a hail of gunfire. As for Freeman and Jolie (the latter in a role slightly smaller than the ads would have you believe), both do excellent jobs of lightly sending up their respective screen personas without going too far overboard--Freeman somehow manages to sound grave and imperious even while discussing the aforementioned Loom of Fate and Jolie cuts such a distinctive figure as the sexy sadist Fox (especially when she is sliding underneath an underpass while straddling the top of an elevated train) that it almost makes you wish that she would go ahead and make “Tomb Raider 3,” provided that Bekmambetov signed on as well.

There have been plenty of blockbuster spectacles that have come along this year but most of them have been terrible and even the better ones, such as “Iron Man” and “Indiana Jones,” have lacked that certain spark of ingenuity that would transform them from a better-than-average film into a must-see. “Wanted” has that spark in spades and as long as you go into it with a healthy appetite for blood, bullets, babes and looney-tunes storytelling, you are likely to walk away from it with a silly grin on your face and the urge to call up some friends in order to breathlessly tell them “yougottaseethisnow!” To be certain, “Wanted” is nothing more than cinematic junk food, but it is cinematic junk food on such an elevated plane that you can’t help but scarf it all up in one big gulp and come away from it hungry for more.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=17006&reviewer=389
originally posted: 06/27/08 00:30:15
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User Comments

1/18/12 Marc DC action, special effects are great, but too much of a Matrix rip off 3 stars
9/28/09 matt i wanted to like it, but the story was dumb, nihilistic and it revels in its own absurdity 2 stars
6/10/09 kenJuku Those who didn't like Wanted have thier heads in the sand, Jolie's Da CHIT!! 4 stars
4/14/09 K pretty awful 2 stars
4/02/09 brad pitt wanted was terrible. 1 stars
2/07/09 Aleks Beautiful, beautiful review... Thank you for that. 1 stars
1/25/09 Ry a little suprised Morgan Freeman would be in a movie like this. 2 stars
1/16/09 Stephanie Bruce All the fun stunts are in the movie trailer, fun movie disappointing though 3 stars
1/10/09 filibuster fred was a laff but at timez I was snorin... 3 stars
12/29/08 Quigley Visually interesting but requries massive belief-suspense. McAvoy was quite good 3 stars
12/06/08 action movie fan good story, overdirected with unconvincing special effects-great train wreck though 3 stars
11/28/08 Jon G well executed 5 stars
9/21/08 nemesis movie sucked from start till end, ultra crap 1 stars
8/29/08 damalc a convoluted hurried mess, but with some nifty action sequences 3 stars
8/18/08 George Barksdale Good action and worth a look 3 stars
8/12/08 Horace This movie won't be another dark Knight. So just shut up and enjoy. Great Film! 5 stars
8/11/08 M brain dead action comedy + Angelina = 3 stars
7/22/08 Ivana Mann Surprisingly good action flick.Pure adrenaline, and CGI that doesn't look like shit.Nice! 4 stars
7/21/08 Funkstick movie kicked my ass 5 stars
7/18/08 bloob The storyline wasn't all that great, but the special effects were far above average. 4 stars
7/11/08 mr.mike Disagree with brian , it got better when it became more serious. 4 stars
7/10/08 BNorm The story was corny and uninteresting but the action was that shit bitch 3 stars
7/05/08 Jayson Jolie couldn't be hotter. Loved it from start to bloody finish. 4 stars
7/05/08 ajay movie is shit, bad acting, bad writing, bad story, too much slow motion running.. bleh 1 stars
7/03/08 sir spam-a-lot Decent action/comic-like movie 3 stars
7/03/08 Nic Bright The trailer hardly does this movie justice, GO WATCH IT! The endings gona kick u in ur ass! 5 stars
7/03/08 Random This blissfully unapologetic cacophony of violence never feels dull. 4 stars
7/02/08 df Yeah, because everyone knows John Woo is American as apple pie. Anyway, great closer Erik. 1 stars
6/30/08 PAUL SHORTT HURTLES PAST OUR EYES AND EARS TOO FAST TO REGISTER AS MUCH MORE THAN A VIDEO GAME 1 stars
6/28/08 Jiz I guess this is what Transporter 2 and Crank would be without Jason Statham. 4 stars
6/28/08 Obi Wan Visual Masturbation! Nothing like the book. Only that they're assassins! 3 stars
6/27/08 Mandrake You can't handle the fact that non-americans make good action fims! 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  27-Jun-2008 (R)
  DVD: 02-Dec-2008

UK
  N/A

Australia
  31-Jul-2008
  DVD: 02-Dec-2008



[trailer] Trailer




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