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Overall Rating

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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by brianorndorf

"One blissful hour and a 50-minute decline"
4 stars

It’s not the familiarity that ultimately undoes “Wanted,” but its uncharacteristic reserve. A back-flipping action bonanza, “Wanted” is an adult cartoon, taking acts of death-defying stupidity to their most illogical extreme, and that’s exactly where this outlandish visual buffet should stay.

Trapped in a dull life with a soul-crushing cubical job, a cheating girlfriend, and no money, Wesley Gibson (James McAvoy) is lost in his own life, unable to claw his way out from underneath his depression. Into his world comes Fox (Angelina Jolie), who takes Wesley to meet Sloan (Morgan Freeman), a secretive man who oversees The Fraternity: a collection of highly-trained, super-human assassins. After learning that his father’s death has left him a spot on the team, Wesley reluctantly undergoes tests of strength and endurance, pushing himself to unleash his extraordinary gifts. Now fully settled into his new life as a hunter, Wesley learns some ugly truths about The Fraternity that force him to confront those he trusts most.

“Wanted” is one of those high-octane, fist-pumping, soda-hurling experiences that make summer multiplex entertainment so much fun. Director Timur Bekmambetov assaults the screen with bracing visuals, taking great stock in bullet-time theatrics and CG-enhancements to a point where “Wanted” feels just like an animated movie. It’s not an especially intellectual motion picture, but more an optical flame-thrower for the first hour, with the director pulling out all the stops to announce “Wanted” as a film cocked and loaded with exclamation points pointed in all directions.

Betmambetov’s previous films, the Russian fantasy two-pack “Night Watch” and “Day Watch,” allowed the filmmaker to sharpen his visual effect skills, and all that exhaustive training comes out to play during “Wanted.” The film is teeming with Betmambetov fingerprints, from a fixation on uneasy textures to the lawless action, playing acceptably into the director’s field of vision. He’s having ball with his English-language debut, falling in love with The Fraternity world: the textile factory/slaughterhouse base of operations, the health-replenishing wax baths the assassins take to cure wounds, and the sheer ballet of bloodshed as the warriors engage in hyper-warfare by “curving” bullets and nailing gravity-defying kill shots. It’s a tapestry of absurdity, yet the director shapes it into a spellbinding sit for the first hour, gulping down the nonsense with a completely convincing photographic bravado.

Following Wesley as he grows from “Fight Club” mouse to “Matrix” lion is a far more enchanting arc than it has any right to be, if only because Betmambetov keeps the film’s outlandishness out in front to stun the viewer, while the rest of the film breakdances like a madman to keep the pace at top speed. The filmmaker is dealing with ridiculously clichéd visual gimmicks, but there’s a consistency to “Wanted,” a veritable fantasy world created, that helps to swallow the malarkey that’s routinely offered by the camera.

Would you believe The Fraternity actually receives their kill assignments from a mystical loom that foretells destinies? It’s that level of reality that Betmambetov saves from complete laughter with his visual ferocity.

However, what goes up must come down. Once “Wanted” moves over to the second half, the picture strangely begins to buy into itself, turning an agreeably violent, heavily caloric distraction into a battle of fates as Wesley starts to take his role in The Fraternity very seriously. Once “Wanted” becomes a tale of revenge instead of discovery, the whole film deflates into over-plotted nonsense. The fun is scooped right out of this sucker, replaced with a punishing sense of obligation, where the filmmaker tries to overcome the movie’s newfound solemnity with a late-inning presentation of excessive, nasty violence and multiple explosions.

Let’s just say the climax of “Wanted” involves epic posturing of familial revenge, a deafening Busby Berkeley-style shoot-out, and an army of lethal rats, their bellies filled with peanut butter and explosives.

It’s disappointing that “Wanted” abandons its sense of humor, but that doesn’t completely rob the picture of some wildly infectious material. It doesn’t maintain its pitch, but “Wanted” is still a rewarding rocket-powered ride of escapism, damn near-perfect lunacy at times.

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originally posted: 06/28/08 06:08:24
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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
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
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  27-Jun-2008 (R)
  DVD: 02-Dec-2008


  DVD: 02-Dec-2008

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