WANTED: Movie Review
Any movie that involves a man impaling the skull of another man with the barrel of a gun, and then continuing to run and shoot other men through the skull of said head, automatically deserves three stars.
But it does make you ask an extremely important question.
How exactly does one get to the point in his or her life where they find themselves impaling and then desecrating newly aquainted corpses just so that they can continue killing more and more individuals?
Well, in Timur Bekmambetov's latest opus Wanted, the audience's suspension of disbelief is thankfully distracted enough by the undeniable entertainment value of extreme bloodshed, at least until the audience leaves the theatre and then immediately starts to converse about the practical applications of flipping cars.
Wanted follows Wesley Gibson as he is pulled away from his miserable nine-to-five office job after discovering his father was one of the world's greatest assassin's. For some reason I can't explain, only he can avenge his father's death by using his assassin powers, which I also cannot explain.
What I'm trying to say here is that Wanted is basically just Harry Potter. Except only if you were to give Harry Potter a suit and tie, take away his glasses, give him a gun, and then tell him he could still do magic but now doesn't have to use his wand anymore.
There's no real rhyme or reason to it, but the concept has an effective story-book charm to it. It's as though Wanted is a Roald Dahl novel for the Fight Club generation.
Those who are already aquainted with Russian director Timur Bekmambetov's work, including Nightwatch and Daywatch, should have a vague idea of what they are in for. This is a visionary director who has an emphasis on the vision. He excells in working with extremes, especially with action. As a result, he is capable of capturing vividly imaginative escapades on camera.
Luckily, for a foreign audience, that can often be enough to justify a boxoffice smash. However, in my experience, it seems that English speaking audiences are a bit more grounded at least when it comes to character development, or at least inciting action.
Wanted gets away with a lot of shiny trappings. Bullets curve with pin-point precision, cars flip easily and skillfully, people heal without a scratch, time moves in slow-motion, people like James McAvoy and Angelina Jolie walk around partially naked, people literally jump between buildings, people almost fly, sniper bullets are practically exchanged from different states. Everything happens, and it is smart enough to go so far beyond the point of any reason that the viewer has no choice but to sit back and go along with it.
It's great fun, but it has problems. Wanted still manages to be a tad too long. There are some strange pacing problems, and there are these all too frequent "white blood-cell bath's" that conveniently heal our hero after every scuffle. It ruins the sense of risk and takes away the tension by saying "there's nothing a hot bath can't clear up!"
It's more designed as a video-game than a movie. There are distinct bosses, training missions, and numerous weapons. Not to mention, the re-heal in a tub of wax option is simply just too convenient in the hands of a film narrative rather than in the control pad of a joystick.
When it comes down to it, the only major qualms I have with Wanted are in it's advertising, which with it's shirtless Jame McAvoy and scary-eyebrowed Anjelina Jolie, seemed to spell out to me: "Date Movie!"
Shortly after the numerous head-shot's, hand stabbing, and teeth scattering, I began to question my choice in viewing content for the evening.
Is this really the perfect summer movie?
No. Not really. Maybe not at all. But it sure is being sold like one.
Unlike Shoot 'Em Up, a film that had no qualms about embracing it's unbridled lack of morals, Wanted seems to glaze it's faults with a heavy gloss of CGI and mass-marketing-appeal.
I'm not sure if I really like that.
Shoot 'Em Up was classy enough to own up to the fact that it was in no way classy. It shamelessly combined every guilty pleasure imaginable, yet retained a distinct charm within it's quirky characters. Although the gunfights were similar in their lack of realism, they still required a thought proccess to execute, as opposed to the somewhat unlikable characters in Wanted, who execute by means of magic bullets.
Wanted is a fun, at times incredibly entertaining, action flick with an addictive attitude and a flair for being visually immersive. It is certainly worth the price of viewing, if only for saying "Wow, that was rediculous." But it lacks the quirky attributes of a carrot-addicted gun-toting veteran, specifically played by Clive Owen.
So I'm just going to say it.
If you can't watch both, watch Shoot 'Em Up instead.