Thursday, March 11, 2010

Archive: 'Wanted'

Movie Review
Wanted (2008)

"Wanted" is hyper kinetic, ultra violent, super sleek, and ferociously sexy. It's total trash. And a damned brilliant guilty pleasure. I could not for one minute wipe the stupid grin off my face once the credits began to roll. It takes a good while after the movie ends for your heart rate to return to normal, for your senses to stop being heightened, and for you to realize that perhaps what you just got done watching was completely nonsensical. But, by the time all of this happens you've probably already babbled to everyone how awesome the movie just was. Or how ridiculous. Either way, it's got you talking about it.

The movie is based on comics by Mark Millar and J.G. Jones, and it tells the story of a nobody named Wesley Gibson (James McAvoy). He's an office drone who hates his job, has a fat bitch of a boss, and has a girlfriend who is cheating on him with his best friend. Wesley is tired of his miserable existence but doesn't know how to escape it. And that's when Angelina Jolie shows up. She plays a secret assassin named Fox, a gun-slinging babe who saves Wesley in a convenient store. She then takes him to a man named Sloan (Morgan Freeman). Now, once Morgan Freeman comes into the picture, you know he's the all-knowing, mighty figure who explains everything. And so he does. He's the leader of a thousand-year-old team of assassins called the Fraternity, and Wesley is the newest recruited member. Wesley discovers that his father was also an assassin and just got murdered. He must now exact revenge on the man who killed his father, a man named Cross (Thomas Kretschmann).

And so, Wesley leaves his old life behind and embraces his new secret identity where he masters the skills of fighting and killing. Sloan explains to him that he has sensory powers, a rushing sense of adrenaline that allows him to concentrate better, a sensation which Wesley was mistaking before for mere panic attacks. He meets other members of the team who beat him to a bloody pulp for his training and then let him heal in some sort of tub of wax. And then he discovers he even has the ability to curve bullets. We're right on Wesley's side as he enters this world where the laws of physics are suspended; he's the everyday guy who finds out he's extraordinary, and his transformation from dweeb to badass is believable.

The assassins within the Fraternity receive their orders on who to kill from the Loom of Fate. Yes, that's right. Any movie that includes a Loom of Fate isn't asking to be taken seriously; you must whole-heartedly understand what you're getting yourself into. This magical loom weaves a binary code of names of people who must be eliminated. The source of the information is unknown, but they trust it and stick with their motto: "Kill one and maybe save a thousand." And then come the fantastically choreographed action sequences that are mind-numbingly fast-paced, swirling about in a whirlwind of bullets and blood. The opening chase in a hot red Viper with Angelina at the wheel really sets the mood.

It's amazing that James McAvoy has gone from "Atonement" to this, and he acts his ass off here sporting a superb American accent. This is a big summer movie, and it will probably give him star credibility. And then there's the full-bodied tattooed Jolie who doesn't mind showing a little skin and simply steals the show even though she is only in a supporting role. Her presence in the movie is pleasingly subdued not because I wouldn't want more of her but simply because her smirking, sexy self is never overused. She's pure sizzle as she fires away at the bad guys with her cat-eye squint. Her range, as well, is impressive with this movie being smack in between two much heavier roles for her in "A Mighty Heart" and "Changeling." Now, the movie's trailers lead viewers astray as to the relationship between Fox and Wesley, but I will tell you that they share a steamy lip-locking moment.

Russian director Timur Bekmambetov (of "Nightwatch" and "Daywatch") puts the petal the metal and never ever lets up for the entire duration of the movie. He's a certified action stylist and even directs the scenes containing no action with the same amount of manic energy. This is a movie that relentlessly nails you to your chair and delivers the goods. With a sneering sense of humor, it sustains an intoxicating visual style with tasteful use of slow motion and heart pounding in your ears. There's even a twist, and it's a good one, too. "Wanted" is an audacious adrenaline rush, the reason we go to the movies in the summertime. This is a movie that is never boring, oftentimes absurd, and all out a whole lot of fucking fun. My advice? Throw logic to the wind, and immerse yourself.

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