MOVIE REVIEW- ‘Wanted': A potentially prophetic title
Wanted is every action movie you ever saw, at at least twice the speed. It should be the most original blockbuster of the summer. It's not a sequel or a comic book superhero adaptation, although it's based on Mark Millar's graphic novel series.
James McAvoy is an unlikely actor to become an action hero, but it works because he's playing an unlikely person to become an action hero. Wesley Gibson (McAvoy) introduces us to his so-called life, working as an account manager for a fat shrew (Lorna Scott) in a soul-draining cubicle he shares with his best friend, Barry (Chris Pratt), who thinks Wesley doesn't know he's screwing his girlfriend (Kristen Hager).
Wesley's life changes– what man's wouldn't?– when he encounters Angelina Jolie– er, Fox– in a market. Suddenly he's in the middle of a shootout, and she's protecting him. Outside, Fox picks him up in the great how'd-they-do-that? moment you've seen in the trailer, and they're off on a wild ride that should have Wanted nominated for all sorts of technical awards.
When the Fox fire dies down, she introduces Wesley to the Fraternity, a secret society of assassins started by a group of weavers a thousand years ago and now headquartered in a functioning textile mill in Chicago. It's headed by Sloan (Morgan Freeman), who awakens Wesley to his inner assassin.
It's genetic, you see. Wesley's father, who abandoned him when he was a week old, was a Fraternity brother, and his skills, including the ability to shoot bullets on a curved path, lie dormant in Wesley. His father was killed the night before, they tell him, by the man who tried to kill him in the market: Cross (Thomas Kretschmann), who "went rogue" from the Fraternity.
Wesley is toughened up with repeated beatings (this should appeal to disciplinarian parents) and rides with Fox atop elevated trains, until he's ready to start killing, with the ultimate goal of taking out Cross to avenge his father. The trail involves some globe-hopping, a meeting with Pekwarsky (Terence Stamp) and a surprising revelation that turns the story around. Needless to say there's more action before it's resolved.
The story may be spun from whole cloth but the hardest part to accept is that the Fraternity takes its killing assignments from "the loom of fate," coded messages that show up as flaws in the factory's textiles. Who has time to review the billions of stitches to find them?
The action involves both real stunts and CGI work, both of the highest level. Bullets meeting in midair and being tracked over a course of several miles are just a couple of the elements that will have geeks in heaven. Bekmambetov and his crew use every trick in and out of the book to make Wanted viscerally exciting.
My one complaint is as a fan of Angelina Jolie. The posters and trailers lead you to think Wanted is her movie, perhaps another Lara Croft, when it's really McAvoy's. Even Freeman is billed over Jolie, and the romance that seems to be building between Wesley and Fox doesn't happen.
But if the Jolie shortage comes as an unpleasant surprise there are more than enough pleasant surprises to make up for it. Rank Wanted with action sleepers like Speed and The Matrix that come out of left field and score a home run.