reviewed by Andrew James
As part of his dreary, daily life existence, Wesley Gibson wakes up to a nagging girlfriend, an empty bank account and a work life very reminiscent of Peter Gibbons in Office Space. Until one day a mysterious sexy vixen named Fox let's him in on the secret that he's actually the target of a super-assassin and that Wesley too has the potential to become a super-super-assassin and join an elite "fraternity" - like his father. Reluctantly Wesley decides to take Fox up on her offer and through a series of action packed sequences learns their extraordinary (or super-natural for lack of a better term) ways of combat at a secret facility in the middle of somewhere, led by Sloan (Morgan Freeman). To go further would be coming close to spoiler territory. But the fact that there even is a spoiler territory in a "summer blockbuster" movie is a good, nay extraordinary, thing.
The extraordinary abilities mentioned above must be touched on. Realize first of all that not only is this an action picture, but also a bit on the fantastical. Bullets can turn in midair or actually be "thrown" about; completely defying any known physics. This physical barrier-breaking refers to pretty much everything in the movie: cars flipping safely in mid air for traffic evasion, people can jump unrealistic distances and a few other fun surprises. Obviously this requires a certain amount of belief suspension that some people won't get or care for. But the rules are set up right away and like the Watch series of films, you learn to just go with it and even enjoy it... in fact, enjoy the hell out of it, because it's a load of fun.
Like The Last King of Scotland and Atonement, it's McAvoy who shows the most talent. While Whitaker was the Oscar winner for Last King, McAvoy was truly the unsung hero. Standing next to big shots Angelina Jolie and Morgan Freeman (and a couple other "surprises"), McAvoy not only holds his own, but show true acting chops and outshines them all. Besides the actiony stunts and usual dramatic moments, McAvoy's comedic timing throughout was balanced and focussed and kept the audience thoroughly entertained with his Simon Peg-like antics. Yes it's true that this young lad will most certainly be a highly sought after, A-list actor in the very near future (if he's not already).
So yes, there's a fair bit of well timed comedy here. The movie is not played for yucks or farce, but there are just enough chuckle worthy moments to keep the audience engaged and to keep the film a little lighter than one might expect. The office keyboard scene alone is worth the price of admission.
Which brings me to style. No CGI action movies today can compare with the unique style of Timur Bekmambetov. The Wachowskis patented it for their Matrix movies, but soon their gimmick became a tired toy and they were never able to expand it or unleash more of its potential. While you certainly see quite a bit of their influence with Wanted, Bekmambetov makes these effects ideas his own with interesting twists and using them in great locales. He takes what might be a fairly generic chase scene through a bunch of train cars and constantly introduces a new set of circumstances to up the energetic ante and keep the stakes that much more complicated. And oh yeah, it looks great too.
As I mentioned in the opening paragraph: "refreshing." It's a great feeling to come out of what would probably be, coming from any other director, a pretty stale actioner and instead look back at a perfect blend of style, substance, comedy, acting and action. Not hokey in the slightest, but a deeper storyline than one might imagine; with possibilities and plenty of food for thought (but not an over abundance that admittedly convoluted his first Night Watch movie). It's got a different look that doesn't overindulge with CGI garbage and maybe most importantly makes everything else look fantastic. Pile on the polar opposite of stiff acting (what the summer CGI movies are usually bogged down by and easily prone to) and Wanted is what you get - a film that I am very happy (and relieved) to find will very likely be entering the year end top ten list.
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