PLOT: Wesley Gibson is a young man who feels that his life is passing him by. He works a white collar job in an office. He despises his miserable and bitchy boss. And he finds no real meaning for his existence. Hell, when he Googles his name, nothing comes up. That is until a mysterious woman named Fox saves his life from a guy with a gun in a pharmacy. She takes him to meet a group that call themselves The Fraternity. Soon, they change this weak man into a powerful killing machine. But he soon realizes that not everything is what it seems and the skills he has learned he must use to survive a bloody (and sort of Matrix-y) battleground.
Angelina Jolie is a sensation. She has undeniable presence and in her latest film, WANTED, she makes it clear why she is an icon. There is something really electrifying about watching her hanging out of a car window and shooting people up. At the screening I saw, I heard a few people talking about her having skeleton arms and a few others mentioning that she desperately needs to eat. But it just seems that there is very little negative you can say about the woman as an actress. She really is terrific and she has an almost surreal beauty to her. And her with a gun… she is arguably the most thrilling leading lady in Hollywood in the past decade.
And here, Ms. Jolie is working with Timur Bekmambetov who gave us the undeniably unique films NIGHT WATCH and DAY WATCH. It seems like a match made in heaven, and although it was a fun movie, it wasn’t quite as much fun as I was hoping to have. Don’t get me wrong, I had a good time but there seemed to be something missing. It also didn’t help that one sequence is so outrageous that it would require a suspension of disbelief that is far more than I could muster. You can see part of it in the trailer and it involves a train. That is all I will say, but it was so far-fetched that I was taken directly out of the correct mindset to enjoy the film at that moment. Now don’t get me wrong, I loved SHOOT ‘EM UP and found that to be tremendously over-the-top, ridiculous fun. But it never tried to be anything less then that. Wanted seemed to take itself just a tad too seriously.
The opening scenes, I felt a bit of deja-vu as far as the script is concerned. Somewhere between OFFICE SPACE and FIGHT CLUB, I was almost waiting for Brad Pitt to show up. Wesley Gibson (James McAvoy) finds himself in a miserable job, with a miserable boss and just your average, ordinary, miserable life. He has dreams of getting out of an office and maybe doing some damage to his evil bitch of a boss, Janice (Lorna Scott). It is his own private hell. Meanwhile, a man who has an uncanny ability to jump from one office building to another and kill a handful of gunman on the way across, is duped by another seemingly powerful man, Cross (Thomas Kretschmann). It is Cross, who we find hunting down the weak and feeble Wesley for reasons unknown. But thankfully, the appropriately named Fox (Jolie) is there when Cross begins shooting up a pharmacy with Wesley in it.
After this chance encounter, Wesley is convinced by a man named Sloan (Morgan Freeman) that he is the son of a powerful assassin. He offers the frightened young man training with a group of professionals, including Fox. This group of hired killers are known as The Fraternity. They are killers who are willing to sacrifice a life to save a thousand. Once the frat takes him in, we are then witness to the weak becoming strong. It all comes to a vicious circle with more bullets going through people’s heads than you could ever imagine. But Timur is a very gifted director and gives the violence a sharp and invigorating vision. The film, based on a series of graphic novels, has a very specific look. It feels a bit like THE MATRIX, but it is clearly Timur’s unique style. The slow motion shots are sometimes brilliant, but sometimes, the imagery takes away from the story including the previously mentioned train sequence.
My main problem with Wanted is the script by Michael Brandt, Derek Haas and Chris Morgan. There are too many ideas trying to create mystery behind the Fraternity. The secrets the film has are so transparent, that a quick audience will figure it out way before the third act comes into play. I also found some of the relationships forced, and too many of the supporting characters were just there to move the story along and to provide fodder for a shootout. While much of the script didn’t quite work for me, I really enjoyed what Ms. Jolie and the talented James McAvoy brought to the table. McAvoy is an incredibly talented guy, and he was able to make Wesley likeable before and after his transformation. He sports a pretty good American dialect and holds his own alongside a few great actors including Jolie, Freeman and Terrance Stamp. While Wanted may not be the best “shoot ‘em up” flick as of late, it is still a decent time at the movies.
My rating 6/10 -- JimmyO