It may seem difficult to go from the boring keyboard in your office to being a superhero fighting to save the world, but everything is possible when it comes to movies like 2008’s Wanted and an over-the-top director like Timur Bekmambetov.
The protagonist of this story is young Wesley Gibson, resigned to being bullied at work and even at home when he returns to his annoying girlfriend Cathy, who moreover betrays him whenever she can with his best friend, Barry.
Until one night, entering the usual mini-mart to shop, he finds the deadly assassin Cross waiting for him, determined at all costs to take him out.
Fortunately, the beautiful and deadly Fox comes to his aid, helping him escape and then accompanying to Mr. Sloan, leader of an ancient and powerful sect of vigilantes.
Wesley then discovers that his father was also a member of the cult and was the best of all these killers, until Cross betrays and kills he then wants to complete the job by killing even his son.
Indeed, he also has exceptional reflexes and insight, a trait common to all these cult members, which invites him to abandon his old life and train to avenge his father.
Initially excited at the prospect of abandoning his former and useless existence, Wesley tries to learn the elegant and cruel law of death under Fox’s care, at first clumsy but quickly making remarkable progress.
Only then does Mr. Sloan reveal to him the existence of a higher force that chooses the cult’s victims, but during his first close encounter with Cross, he discovers that he has only ended up in a web of lies.
Simple fun doing its dirty, honest work
Wanted is a pleasant and entertaining movie combining black humor, comic-book heroism and a lot of action that made it a box office hit in 2008, grossing more than $300 million worldwide.
Building on Mark Millar‘s comic book miniseries of the same name, Russian director Timur Bekmambetov makes an enjoyable flick full of irony and violence, stylish and fast-paced action (sometimes too fast, perhaps), with in addition a dash of eroticism added by the usually delightful Angelina Jolie paired with rising star James McAvoy.
Interestingly, the fraternity’s superhuman ability to raise the heart rate to over 400 beats per minute introduces an extraordinary cinematic possibility, leading to some action sequences somewhere between the hyperkinetic John Woo style and the famous “bullet-time” of the Matrix saga.
The plot is the usual mix of adventure and comedy, quite predictable in its coming-of-age story of an underdog who learns about his past and ends up in a world of assassinations and extreme gunfights where people can flip cars, shoot from miles away, and hit multiple targets with a single shot.
Despite the script being largely unoriginal and receiving harsh criticism from many reviewers, it provides a thrilling and enjoyable reality-detachment that audiences always appreciate and look for.
With a high pace, almost like the various levels of a video game, we never stop constantly cruising through ever-changing scenarios with exaggerated personalities, none unnecessary, each with a distinct and minor purpose.
Intentionally, Bekmambetov emphasizes spectacle rather than storytelling, focusing on incredible stunts that create a noisy and explosive rush akin to a thrilling hour-and-a-half-long ride of entertainment that, although this is clearly an unpretentious movie, leaves no sense of having wasted time.
Superstars curving bullets
Of course, the most significant limelight regarding the cast goes to the couple on the cover, James McAvoy and Angelina Jolie, unquestionably the protagonists of all the best scenes in the movie.
Fresh from his success in his role in Atonement, McAvoy would get the consecration he deserved and later land to the general public in X-Men: First Class, where he would be the new Charles Xavier in the reboot of the famous superhero saga.
Here, we see him still young but already willing to break through and arrive at success; obviously, thanks to his enormous talent, succeeding in enhancing even this relatively simple and stereotypical role.
It is unnecessary to add how good-acting and awesome-looking Angelina Jolie is, an incredible fusion of strength and sensuality who moves through the action scenes with the elegance and ferocity of a panther on the savannah.
The chemistry between these two characters is what holds the most interest, along with the presence of the enormous and charismatic Morgan Freeman, of course, an actor you can put in any role and always delivers his usual unerring performance.
On the other hand, I want to complain a little about the antagonist, the super assassin Cross: this is not the fault of the actor playing him, Thomas Kretschmann, who indeed does what he can in the little time available for this character, which is simply too fast introduced and developed to really understand or appreciate him.
Much more entertaining are the other minor roles, such as the rapper Common as The Gunsmith, somewhat resembling the role (equally brief but effective) that we will see him in John Wick 2 in his fast and fierce duel against Keanu Reeves.
Finally, we also point out the presence of the amiable Chris Pratt, future leader of the Guardians of the Galaxy, who here is the abused Barry, an alleged friend of the hero daily sleeping with his girlfriend, played by Kristen Hager.