Featured Guest: Timur Bekmambetov (Director)
Universal kicked off their triple-feature panel with Timur Bekmambetov and WANTED. Bekmambetov was different than I expected: the director of NIGHT and DAY WATCH wasn't the young, brazen dude I had always pictured, but a subdued, gentle man in his late 40s. While the discussion didn't reveal much aside from the director's appreciation of the strong, capable cast he worked with, the two sequences screened were very welcome - the first sending the crwod into a prolonged frenzy of applause:
James McAvoy's "Wesley" is shopping in a grocery store when he notices that a man (Thomas Kretschmann) is silently, menacingly watching him. Before he knows it, Wesley is suddenly joined by Fox (Angelina Jolie, looking as sexy as ever) who informs him that his father died yesterday. Wesley remarks that his father left him when he was an infant. Then the mysterious man is abruptly gunning for them, with Fox pulling Wesley into an aisle and unleashing an AMAZING gun that must be seen to be believed (it swings around corners as if on hinges, with a viewfinder allowing you to spy your enemy). After some shooting, Wesley runs out of the store, is pursued by the assassin in a truck, and finally swiftly rescued by Fox (a very nifty moment). Then a long, metal-crushing, car-flipping chase ensues (complete with a few funny one-liners from the overwhelmed Wesley), culminating with their car driving off the side of a bus - something else that has to be seen to be believed.
The second clip picks up almost directly afterward, as Wesley wakes up in a warehouse. At first it seems like he's alone, but when he tries leaving, ominous-looking fellows just seem to appear out of thin air, much in the way Fox did in the grocery store. In fact, she's there too. As Wesley's fear escalates, a familiar voice announces "I thought he'd be taller" - this is Morgan Freeman as "Sloane," obviously the ringleader of this crew. Sloane knows all too much about Wesley, including the fact that his heart sometimes beats 400 times a minute. This is not a panic attack, he explains, but a heightened state of awareness that only some people have - like Wesley's father, who was a world-class assassin. The man who chased after Wesley and Fox is an assassin too, and Sloane wants Wesley to kill this man... To prove his point, Sloane forces Wesley to take a gun and shoot the wings off of a trio of flies buzzing near a trash can. After some intimidation from one of the henchmen (Common), Wesley complies, and his vision of the fly alters drastically - the fly seems to be moving in slow-mo... Gee, what do you think happens?? Soon after, a freaked-out Wesley flees with the gun (after urging Fox to stay away from him) as the group watches, with some slight amusement.
Both of these clips were very entertaining, and had the audience pumped. A Q+A session soon followed:
- Bekmambetov was asked about a third "WATCH" movie, and he said that he'd like to do it, but for now there's no set plan. He joked that he considers WANTED his DUSK WATCH, for now.
- As for a WANTED sequel, Bekmambetov said "We'll talk about it in July."
- A fan asked Bekmambetov why the decision was made to eliminate costumes from the tale, as apparently (I've never read it, myself) the WANTED graphic novel has all of the characters in costumes. Bekmambetov commented that he wanted this film to be a little more grounded in reality: "Can you imagine super-assassin walking down the street in costume? Everyone would know he's a super-assassin. Very unprofessional." The crowd ate this up, and by the time the panel was over, had fully embraced the gracious director.