Ever wish there was more to the boring mundane existence you call a life and just through the rabbit hole led a life making out with Angelina Jolie and hanging with Morgan Freeman? Chances are you’re really going to enjoy Wanted, the latest and craziest in a thankfully endless stream of comic book based-movies.
Wesley Gibson (James McAvoy) is a timid individual too meek to confront his best friend and girlfriend over their affair, stand up to his overbearing boss or the gangs that harass him on his walk to work.
That all changes when he meets Fox (Jolie in full-on bada$$ sexpot mode) who brings him to her boss, Sloan (a silky smooth Morgan Freeman) Turns out Wesley’s father was a member of The Fraternity — a pack of assassins with some superhuman abilities that kill evildoers. Wesley’s father was the best, until he was murdered by Cross (Thomas Kretschmann), the same man who’s now gunning for Wesley.
Sloan offers Wesley a chance to get his revenge on Cross and forever change his destiny by taking his father’s place in The Fraternity. And the old man passed on more than his eye color as Wesley is so adept a marksman he can shoot flies.
McAvoy makes for an accessible lead and his transformation from spineless weakling to a trained killer is a lot of fun.
The influence of The Matrix — a similar story of an Average Joe who learns his life is much more significant than he imagines — is apparent early on.
Director Timur Bekmambetov (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) pumps the volume on the action up to 12 with unique angles including a slow motion look at a bullet’s path to its target, exploding rats and high-speed bullets colliding in mid-air. It certainly provides that ‘whoa…cool!’ reaction he wants from the audience.
Still, Bekmambetov is a bit too ambitious at times, the action scene contested on a train isn’t the jaw-dropping scene he envisioned and he struggles at times making the non-fighting scenes as engaging.
Wanted is very loosely based off of Mark Millar’s 2003 comic book series where super villains rule the world and Wesley is recruited to join The Fraternity just as a war of villain factions begins.
That premise is a bit much to do any justice with the film’s $75 million budget, but the story compromises turn a deliciously original idea into a generic spy vs. spy adventure especially since none of the characters wear costumes.
Millar went extreme with his story and doubled-down on making his characters unlikable and loathsome. That’s sensible for a story about the bad guys, but he needed to reel the shock factor in somewhat. Comic Wesley rapes women and kills cops for fun so he’s hardly a relatable protagonist making McAvoy’s version a lead you’ll have no qualms caring about.
In a perfect movie world, Bekmambetov would have been able to make a hybrid of Millar’s horrific villainous world with the more compelling characters screenwriters Michael Brandt, Derek Haas and Chris Morgan conceived.
The final fight is somewhat anticlimactic, but the last scene is an entertaining destruction of the fourth wall. For non-discerning action fans looking to satisfy your adrenaline rush, you can add this film to your most wanted list.