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Overall Rating
3.35

Awesome: 14.86%
Worth A Look33.78%
Average: 31.08%
Pretty Bad: 12.16%
Total Crap: 8.11%

7 reviews, 32 user ratings


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Wanted
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by Mel Valentin

"The anti-Sex and the City flick we've been waiting for."
4 stars

Russian filmmaker Timur Bekmambetov (the forthcoming "Twilight Watch," "Day Watch," "Night Watch") makes his English-language debut with "Wanted," the big screen adaptation of the miniseries by Mark Millar ("Ultimates," "The Authority," "Superman: Red Son") and J.G. Jones ("Final Crisis," "52: the Covers"), is an over-the-top, ultra-violent, profanity-laced film. If "Wanted" does as well as it should, Bekmambetov will join American directors known for their proficiency within the action genre, e.g., John McTiernan ("Die Hard," "Predator"), Michael Bay ("Transformers," "Bad Boys I and II"), and even the Wachowski Brothers (the "Matrix" trilogy).

Wanted isnít very far away from the Matrix trilogy or Fight Club in story points and in the central character, Wesley Gibson (James McAvoy), a milquetoast accountant and cubicle drone stuck in a dead-end career and a lifeless, rote relationship to his cheating girlfriend, Cathy (Kristen Hager). When heís not cowed into submission by his boss or ignoring his best friend, Barry (Chris Pratt), sleeping with Cathy, Gibson is on anti-anxiety meds. All that changes (as it has to, of course) when a woman (Angelina Jolie) identified only as the Fox, accosts him in the pharmacy and spins out a story about a secret order of super-assassins who do good by doing evil, how Gibsonís recently deceased father (whom heís never met), was a super-assassin murdered by a rogue assassin, Cross (Thomas Kretschmann). Before Gibson can do what he does best (i.e., run away), Cross shows up at the pharmacy and exchanges gunfire with the Fox.

After a spectacular chase through the nighttime streets (Chicago, presumably), Fox takes Gibson to meet her boss, Sloan (Morgan Freeman), the seemingly benevolent head of the secret order of super-assassins, the Fraternity. Sloan convinces Gibson of his special abilities by having another assassin, the Gunsmith (Common), point a gun at Gibsonís head and, under orders from Sloan, shoots the wings off houseflies. Sloan offers Gibson the prospect of revenging his fatherís death, but only after an arduous, often brutal period of physical and firearms training. Gibson learns how to use guns from the Gunsmith, knife work from the Butcher (Dato Bakhtadze), withstanding physical punishment from the Repairman (Marc Warren), and how to get rid of vermin from the Exterminator (Konstantin Khabensky). Luckily for Gibson, the Fraternityís headquarters comes equipped with a special healing bath. Even then, Sloan decrees that Gibson isnít ready to take on Cross.

Michael Brandt, Derek Haas, and Chris Morgan's screenplay takes liberties with Millar and Jonesí miniseries, so much so that fans of the mini-series wonít recognize many of the plot points and turns. Gone are the costumed super-villains and superheroes, the multi-verse, the five ruling families or crime syndicates run by the super-villains under the cover of normalcy. Gone too is the rank nihilism that made Millar and Jonesí miniseries a difficult, disturbing read. Instead, Brandt, Haas, and Morgan left it at one Fraternity and not five families, stripped Gibson of his sociopathic personality and hunger for sex, violence, and power, pushed the revenge angle to the foreground, added the Loom (or is it Looms?) of Fate that determines the Fraternityís hit list, and planted the seeds for several, interlocking plot turns absent from Millar and Jonesí miniseries.

If that sounds like an improvement over Millar and Jonesí mini-series, thatís because it is. While Gibson isnít a particularly deep or even compelling character, at least heís given adequate motivation for his actions. The violence and profanity are still there (and sex too, of course, albeit in small doses), but it all feels ďtrueĒ to the characters and the world they live in. Then too, it helps that the screenwriters kept the background motivations of several key characters hidden until the right, bullet-ridden moment. None of that would have added up to anything, though, if it was for the gloriously over-the-top, unashamedly self-indulgent Timur Bekmambetov, here taking full advantage of the financial and technical resources available to Hollywood filmmakers and pushing the gravity-defying set pieces as far as they can go. Cars flip over in mid-air and land right side up undamaged (mostly), assassins leap and jump and shoot, all in an effort to leave moviegoers gasping in disbelief (it works, of course).

And that doesnít even begin to convey how far Bekmambetov pushes "Wanted" or his cast. Scottish actor James McAvoy does a credible American accent, but he really sells Gibsonís transformation from meek cubicle geek to over-confident super-assassin. Likewise with Jolie who, as Gibsonís mentor, doesnít get much of a character arc, but pulls off the action sequences with the maximum of cool. In short, think of "Wanted" as the anti-"Sex and the City." If "Sex and the City" was, to use a disparaging term, a ďchick flick,Ē then "Wanted" can be definitely described as a ďd*ck flick,Ē an action film for action film geeks.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=17006&reviewer=402
originally posted: 06/27/08 11:00:00
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User Comments

1/18/12 Marc DC action, special effects are great, but too much of a Matrix rip off 3 stars
9/28/09 matt i wanted to like it, but the story was dumb, nihilistic and it revels in its own absurdity 2 stars
6/11/09 kenJuku Those who didn't like Wanted have thier heads in the sand, Jolie's Da CHIT!! 4 stars
4/15/09 K pretty awful 2 stars
4/02/09 brad pitt wanted was terrible. 1 stars
2/08/09 Aleks Beautiful, beautiful review... Thank you for that. 1 stars
1/26/09 Ry a little suprised Morgan Freeman would be in a movie like this. 2 stars
1/16/09 Stephanie Bruce All the fun stunts are in the movie trailer, fun movie disappointing though 3 stars
1/11/09 filibuster fred was a laff but at timez I was snorin... 3 stars
12/30/08 Quigley Visually interesting but requries massive belief-suspense. McAvoy was quite good 3 stars
12/07/08 action movie fan good story, overdirected with unconvincing special effects-great train wreck though 3 stars
11/28/08 Jon G well executed 5 stars
9/22/08 nemesis movie sucked from start till end, ultra crap 1 stars
8/30/08 damalc a convoluted hurried mess, but with some nifty action sequences 3 stars
8/18/08 George Barksdale Good action and worth a look 3 stars
8/13/08 Horace This movie won't be another dark Knight. So just shut up and enjoy. Great Film! 5 stars
8/11/08 M brain dead action comedy + Angelina = 3 stars
7/23/08 Ivana Mann Surprisingly good action flick.Pure adrenaline, and CGI that doesn't look like shit.Nice! 4 stars
7/21/08 Funkstick movie kicked my ass 5 stars
7/19/08 bloob The storyline wasn't all that great, but the special effects were far above average. 4 stars
7/12/08 mr.mike Disagree with brian , it got better when it became more serious. 4 stars
7/10/08 BNorm The story was corny and uninteresting but the action was that shit bitch 3 stars
7/06/08 Jayson Jolie couldn't be hotter. Loved it from start to bloody finish. 4 stars
7/06/08 ajay movie is shit, bad acting, bad writing, bad story, too much slow motion running.. bleh 1 stars
7/04/08 sir spam-a-lot Decent action/comic-like movie 3 stars
7/04/08 Nic Bright The trailer hardly does this movie justice, GO WATCH IT! The endings gona kick u in ur ass! 5 stars
7/03/08 Random This blissfully unapologetic cacophony of violence never feels dull. 4 stars
7/02/08 df Yeah, because everyone knows John Woo is American as apple pie. Anyway, great closer Erik. 1 stars
7/01/08 PAUL SHORTT HURTLES PAST OUR EYES AND EARS TOO FAST TO REGISTER AS MUCH MORE THAN A VIDEO GAME 1 stars
6/28/08 Jiz I guess this is what Transporter 2 and Crank would be without Jason Statham. 4 stars
6/28/08 Obi Wan Visual Masturbation! Nothing like the book. Only that they're assassins! 3 stars
6/28/08 Mandrake You can't handle the fact that non-americans make good action fims! 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  27-Jun-2008 (R)
  DVD: 02-Dec-2008

UK
  N/A

Australia
  31-Jul-2008
  DVD: 02-Dec-2008



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