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Angelina Jolie in Wanted

February 2009 SITE MAP   SEARCH

cast: James McAvoy, Angelina Jolie, Morgan Freeman, Marc Warren, and Terence Stamp

director: Timur Bekmambetov

106 minutes (16) 2008
Uinversal DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 6/10
reviewed by J.C. Hartley
Wanted is an excessively violent version of Mark Millar's violent comic wherein super-villains have banded together and wiped out the good guys and now rule the world from behind the scenes. The film goes against the grain of the recent spate of comic-book adaptations by making the protagonists a fraternity of assassins with heightened abilities rather than a coven of costumed super-villains.

Wesley (James McAvoy, Atonement, Frank Herbert's Children Of Dune) is an orphaned cubicle geek, bullied by his boss and cheated on by his girlfriend and best friend. He introduces us to his hellish life in a voiceover, playing over scenes of his day-to-day humiliations in a sequence slightly reminiscent of Fight Club. We then witness a violent confrontation where an assassin displays remarkable abilities in despatching a group of snipers only himself to be killed by a bullet seemingly fired from miles away.

Wesley is accosted in his local store by a striking young woman called Fox (Angelina Jolie, Tomb Raider, Beowulf) who tells him that his father has been murdered and that the killer Cross (Thomas Kretschmann, King Kong, Valkyrie) is in the store with them. A shootout and car chase follows in which Fox displays remarkable abilities in keeping Wesley alive.

Wesley is introduced to the Fraternity and their leader Sloan (Morgan Freeman, The Dark Knight) and urged to realise his potential and follow in his father's footsteps. Wesley does display some nascent abilities but briefly chooses to return to his old life before finally violently breaking his old ties and throwing in his lot with his new comrades.

There follows an introduction to the Loom of Fate which reveals, woven into fabric, the names of the people it is necessary for the fraternity to eliminate. Wesley is further introduced to his violent initiation which is designed to beat out his old self and stimulate his dormant abilities. By the power of montage, and a vague nod to The Matrix, Wesley's abilities emerge and after another confrontation with Cross in which Wesley is wounded by one of the latter's unique bullets Wesley is despatched to Moravia to track down bullet-maker Pekwarsky (Terence Stamp, Superman 2). In the meantime, Sloan reveals to Fox that the Loom has issued Wesley's name and that she must kill him after Wesley has killed Cross. The sequence which follows is the best in the film. An enjoyably implausible shootout, and train wreck, and a 'Luke, I am your father' revelation which would have been risible if not so clearly anticipated. The film concludes with Wesley taking on the Fraternity, and Morgan Freeman saying "Oh, fuck!"

Generally well-received personally I found the film deeply offensive for its violence, its overuse of the word 'fuck', its complete lack of humour, and the way it seems to stampede towards an 18-rating; and I loved Shoot 'Em Up. Every killing is a bloody head-shot, and Wesley's beatings by Marc Warren's 'Repairman' and carvings by Konstantin Khabensky's 'Exterminator' are just obscene. It is impossible to care for any of the characters and James McAvoy's Wesley is like a violent version of a stuffed toy from CBeebies. While everyone trusts Morgan Freeman makes a full recovery from his recent accident, this performance is one 'wise old owl' too many. If the makers wish to see how to make an adult violent sweary film about assassins they should watch In Bruges.

What extras you receive depends on which edition you acquire. The single-disc has nothing, but the two-disc special includes eight making-of featurettes covering stunts, effects, CGI, and a profile of the director, stuff about the video game and the original comic, extended scenes and a digital copy. Other editions enhance this mix variously.

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