Based upon Mark Millar's explosive graphic novel series and helmed by stunning visualist director Timur Bekmambetov -- creator of the most successful Russian film franchise in history, the 'Night Watch' series -- 'Wanted' tells the tale of one apathetic nobody's transformation into an unparalleled enforcer of justice.
In 2008, the world will be introduced to a hero for a new generation: Wesley Gibson. 25-year-old Wes (James McAvoy) was the most disaffected, cube-dwelling drone the planet had ever known. His boss chewed him out hourly, his girlfriend ignored him routinely and his life plodded on interminably. Everyone was certain this disengaged slacker would amount to nothing. There was little else for Wes to do but wile away the days and die in his slow, clock-punching rut.
Until he met a woman named Fox (Angelina Jolie). After his estranged father is murdered, the deadly sexy Fox recruits Wes into the Fraternity, a secret society that trains Wes to avenge his dad's death by unlocking his dormant powers. As she teaches him how to develop lightning-quick reflexes and phenomenal agility, Wes discovers this team lives by an ancient, unbreakable code: carry out the death orders given by fate itself. With wickedly brilliant tutors -- including the Fraternity's enigmatic leader, Sloan (Morgan Freeman) -- Wes grows to enjoy all the strength he ever wanted. But, slowly, he begins to realize there is more to his dangerous associates than meets the eye. And as he wavers between newfound heroism and vengeance, Wes will come to learn what no one could ever teach him: he alone controls his destiny.
Jolly good fun, that's what this movie is. Okay, maybe not exactly like that, but it is quite the ride. Wesley is a loser, and everyone, including himself, knows it. His boss treats him like crap, his buddy Barry is banging his girlfriend and he's too much of a wuss to say anything, and the stress of it all is giving him anxiety attacks which have him downing meds like they're M'n M's. One night when he's at the drugstore loading up on his next prescription, he glances over to see a mysterious and beautiful woman (Fox) smirking at him, and immediately does what he does best: he apologizes to her.
But she's not interested in his apologies, only in saving his life. Someone is after him, and while he's freaking out, she's saving his ass. As the two shoot it out right there in the middle of the store, Wesley finally manages to break away and runs out into the parking lot...right into the path of the man shooting at him. But before he gets squished like a bug, Angelina, er, I mean Fox, shows up and loads him up in her car. After the obligatory car chase, both Fox and Wesley make there way to a textile factory, and Wesley is introduced to...the Fraternity.
Now here's where things get a little weird. The Fraternity has been around for a thousand years, initiated by a bunch of weavers(!) who felt the world needed a little order amidst the chaos, and so the men and women who belong in the Fraternity have enhanced strength, speed and endurance as they go about their destiny as assassins. Wesley's anxiety? Not so much that as a sign that his body is adjusting to the power it encapsulates. And just how are the targets of the assassins chosen? Well, I won't give it all away, but suffice it to say, it's not a majority vote.
Loved the preview when I first saw it, and was really looking forward to seeing both Angelina and James in this movie. The preview definitely hits the highlights, but that didn't mean that was all there was to the film. What I found interesting is that Wesley didn't immediately sign up to become a trained killer, and it wasn't until he realized he might be able to get his revenge against the man who killed his father that he starts rebelling. It was cool watching Wesley go from meek, dumped-on office drone to a kick-ass fighter with a conscience. I mean seriously, in one scene you can actually see him go from total geek to complete hotness in the space of minutes - yum. The transition was brutal, and he had the bruises and scars to prove it. Despite his abilities, it took a lot of exhausting training and pain to come anywhere near where he needed to be.
Yes, it was painful to watch. As in vi-o-lent. Some scenes were so vivid in the first gory moments of the movie, and I knew that if the whole show was going to be that bloody, I was either going to have to leave the theatre or pass out. Thank God it toned down a bit after that and I was able to handle it.
I also thought it was rather a nice change of pace that Wesley didn't fall all over himself trying to impress Fox. I'm sure he thought she was hot, there was one scene where that was pretty evident, but he didn't follow her around like a puppy dog and get all googly-eyed over her. Or maybe he figured he was too far out of her league. I do like her as the Lara Croft type of character - she excels at it, and always looks like she's having a hell of a good time doing it too.
There were also quite a few funny moments (i.e. the look on Sloan's face near the end is priceless *g*) and the ending rocked - cracked me up. And I loved the music. I just had that the soundtrack is never as complete as the movie is. But whatever. I had a great time watching this movie and you can't take that away from me. And if you're gonna watch it, don't get hung up on the realism - or lackthereof. It's just a movie. (But a damn good one).
Rating: **** 1/2 out of *****