Wanted hit theaters recently and delivered a stylishly cool movie. John saw it and has his review after the jump.
Wanted: James McAvoy, Angelina Jolie, Morgan Freeman
Directed by Timur Bekmambetov
SYNOPSIS: There is a guild of assassins called “The Fraternity” who believes that there is a necessity to sustain the balance of the world: fate decides that in order to save many, it’s necessary to kill a few. When one of their own is murdered by a rogue assassin, The Fraternity resolves to protect and ultimately train their fallen comrade’s son (James McAvoy) in order to avenge his father’s death.
ANALYSIS: This is what brings me back to the movies, time and time again. The gratification that my curiosity will be rewarded in one way or another. In the case of “Wanted,” I showed a bit of reluctance at first glance, mainly because of Angelina Jolie. The tabloids surrounding her of late have become quite grating, and I was afraid that this was going to be another movie that would use her star power to sell it. The poster campaign didn’t help either (See example above).
The thing that got me to budge on this film was the discovery that Timur Bekmambetov directed it, and since I was absolutely entranced by his previous two films “Night Watch” and “Day Watch,” I wanted to see how he would fare in his Hollywood debut. Well, I’m happy to report that he pulled it off. He lends much of his singular visual style, which employs action sequences which are enamoured with the grace of movement and the characters dance across the screen with commanding authority.
Nine years ago, we were made aghast when Carrie Anne-Moss leapt from building to building with unnatural grace. But what Bekmambetov does is make it look difficult and ultimately more impressive when they pull it off. Bekmambetov also takes advantage of the highly flexible script and uses his tricks to convey the latent humor of the story, and alternatively, he does the same for the moments of dramatic revelation. So skilled is the director that he never loses focus on these traits, and not only does his style lend itself to the material, he improves on it. After all, there is something very familiar about the story of a guy with a ho-hum life, who finds out that there is something bigger going on. It’s an old chestnut. But Bekmambetov’s abilities give it a different sort of attitude which makes it unique. Combining that with a well-rounded performance by James McAvoy, we get more than just another guy going “Whoa.” The development of the other characters proves to be especially spry as well. Particularly Jolie, who lets us know, right out of the gate, that Trinity ain’t got nothin’ on her, and she doesn’t care if anyone argues it. This story is less inhibited and far more brutal than The Matrix, and Jolie never winces at the fact. Avoiding spoilers at this point, Jolie also conveys her character’s conflicts effectively. She never has you doubting it at that crucial point which occurs at the film’s climax when she makes that tide changing decision. Of course, attention must be paid to Morgan Freeman. Once again, to avoid that internet scourge called “Spoilers,” I can only report that he lends some much needed authority, intelligence, and sophistication to the role of Sloan. Naturally, because of that, it makes his character all the more interesting as the story progresses.
In conclusion, Wanted offers us another helping of things we’ve already seen and will probably be buried (box-office wise) beneath the highly competitive summer of 2008. However, strong performances from the film’s leads, combined with sleek, stylish direction from Timur Bekmambetov, make “Wanted” an action thriller of the highest caliber, and it will avoid obscurity by miles.