Wanted is ridiculous, over the top and one of the best times I’ve had at the movies in a long time.
Wanted should have been terrible. This review should have been a diatribe about how unoriginal and unimaginative Hollywood movies have become. What I shouldn’t be writing is this: The movie was awesome! How this could have happened is still not clear.
The movie, based on a comic book series of the same name, tells the story of Wesley Gibson (James McAvoy), an account manager in a bland office in a company whose function is left ambiguous. He is plagued by panic attacks, his girlfriend is cheating on him with his best friend, and his boss makes his hours of work unbearable.
Out of the blue, Wesley is kidnapped by the beautiful and deadly Fox (Angelina Jolie) after a man named Cross (Thomas Kretschmann) tries to kill him as he is picking up his prescription at a grocery store. Wesley finds out that his father, whom he has never known, was killed days earlier by Cross, a rogue member of The Fraternity, a secret group of assassins that has been around for over a thousand years.
Wesley is told he is the only one who can get close enough to Cross to kill him, so under the guidance of the leader of The Fraternity, Sloan (Morgan Freeman), Wesley is taught how to become an expert at killing.
What makes the movie entertaining as well as enjoyable is the superb directing of Timur Bekmambetov, who conducts the mayhem with the skill of a concert pianist. He provides a perfect balance of action and humor without letting one dominate the other. The fight and chase scenes are fast-paced and quite creative. The only reason we can actually buy into what happens on screen is because, like The Matrix, the movie creates a world where the ridiculous is possible.
McAvoy is clearly having a blast as Wesley. Though he is not known for playing comical characters, he is able to deliver the movie’s funniest lines like a veteran standup. He carries the movie because he is a tremendous actor, and his abilities lend weight to the believability of the story. Freeman is his normal monotone self for most of the movie, though he does have a terrific speech at the climax of the film. Jolie is also having fun in her role as Fox, and it shows. She isn’t taking herself too seriously, which allows her to play with the character quite a bit.
As long as you’re not expecting groundbreaking filmmaking, Wanted is a whole lot of fun in the theater. It’s ridiculous, over the top and one of the best times I’ve had at the movies in a long time. | Matthew F. Newlin