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Wanted by Timur Bekmambetov (dir)
Review by Drew Bittner
 
Date: 27 June 2008 / Show Official Info /

A high-octane feast of action and wild visuals from Timur Bekmambetov (Night Watch), starring James McAvoy and Angelina Jolie. An office drone is launched into a world of killers, where targets are chosen by Fate and not all is what it seems.

CAST:
James McAvoy as Wesley Gibson / Morgan Freeman as Sloan / Angelina Jolie as Fox / Common as The Gunsmith / Thomas Kretschmann as Cross

Ever feel like you're a nobody? Wesley Gibson (McAvoy) does. He sits in an office, a bland and pasty account manager who works for a vicious shrew, whose girlfriend is sleeping with his best friend/coworker, whose bank account is so slim he can't afford gum, and whose life is on a slow train to utter meaninglessness with death as his only hope for relief.

All that changes one night at a drugstore, when Wesley's met by a woman named Fox (Jolie), who explains that an assassin is after Wesley. He is taken to meet Sloan (Freeman), who runs a textile factory as a front for a world-spanning conspiracy of assassins.

It's going to be a rough week for Wesley.

In the weeks afterward, he is trained by the Fraternity (the organization led by Sloan) in how to fight, how to take a beating, how to shoot around corners and how, basically, to be a badass. He discovers that his ultimate target--the man who wants him dead--is Cross (Kretschman), a renegade ex-Fraternity killer.

Wesley sets out to take down Cross. He gets a vital clue that leads him to Cross... but he learns that you don't always get what you want in life, even when you have loads of firepower backing you up.

Timur Bekmambetov brings his signature high-velocity style to Wanted, which is very loosely adapted from the comic book miniseries by Mark Millar and J.G. Jones. Fans of the book should assume, going in, that virtually nothing of the book shows up onscreen; honestly, this is about as least-faithful an adaptation as you could find.

However, that does not mean it's a bad movie. The mythology developed for the comic book is a dystopian superhero universe with more than a few familiar characters given a nasty, almost eviscerating twist:

SPOILER ALERT! (For the comic book, anyway)

The supervillains won--and now secretly rule the world--and the superheroes are all brainwashed and powerless, some of them brutally humiliated by where they're left.
END SPOILER ALERT

The plot has integrity and the actions of the characters are plausible. Wesley's tutelage at the hands of The Repairman (Marc Warren), The Butcher (Dato Bakhtadze) and others shape him into someone entirely new--a survivor. (The supporting cast, by the way, is absolutely terrific and a good movie could be built on them alone.)

McAvoy carries off the transition from nobody to hardcore killer to something more, wide-eyed disbelief giving way to cold-eyed murder. He's shown remarkable versatility as an actor, and this role will only add to his big screen luster.

Most moviegoers might think that Angelina Jolie is only reprising familiar characters, such as Lara Croft or Jane Smith, but she brings something more to Fox--the wounded air of a woman who's had to live with tragedy and whose dedication to an ideal may be more than anyone can handle. She's terrific in this part, playing mentor and maybe-more to Wesley, with some great dialogue between her character and Freeman's.

Morgan Freeman brings gravitas to any role he plays, and Sloan is no exception. Even when he's using language he hasn't used onscreen since Street Smart, he's never less than focused, intent and cerebral. He has never disappointed and delivers handsomely here.

The visual effects are terrific, with some great bits of "car-fu" and a fantastic couple of chase scenes, along with a dynamite series of fight scenes to close out the story. There's some room for a sequel, if Bekmambetov and company so choose, and it's likely that one of those will be wanted soon.

Recommended.

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