A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Wanted

November 4, 2010

Wanted

Since we watched Night Watch and Day Watch this week we figured why not go whole hog and make it a Timur Bekmambetov week with Wanted. This is a fun, but stupid movie. It mixes aspects of a whole bunch of popular movies (Amanda commented during the beginning “Is this supposed to be Office Space or Fight Club?”) and the plot of the Assasin’s Creed games into a huge overcharged action mess.

Okay, it’s a comic book movie. It’s an origin story. The origin of a totally bad ass killer. A killer with all kinds of super powers – in comic book tradition. It’s also the story of a guy trapped in a dead end job with a dead end relationship who can’t understand why he is the biggest loser in the world. James McAvoy plays Wesley, a total weenie who tells us in a Fight Club style voice over how repetitive and dreadful his menial cubical job life is. His boss is an annoying woman with a red stapler (is that a deliberate Office Space reference?) who yells at him and demeans him at work. His best friend is having sex with his girlfriend. He has no money in his bank account. In short his life completely sucks until one day in a convenience store a beautiful woman basically tells him “come with me if you want to live” and saves him from an unstoppable killing machine ala Terminator.

From there Wesley is thrown into a strange world full of super assassins who work in a castle that is a textile mill. His bodyguard and mentor is Fox, a taciturn woman who kicks all kinds of ass. The head of the order is Sloan, who translates the orders that an ancient loom makes for assassination targets pegged by fate itself as too dangerous to live. There’s a colorful crew of assassin thugs who work together to whip Wesley into shape so that he can kill Cross – the man they say killed Wesley’s father. (With the help of a montage this training only seems to take a couple days – although the voice over at the end of the movie implies it took six weeks. Still, I suppose they have to provide him with an entire lifetime’s training in that six weeks, so a montage is really the only way.)

Basically Wesley is the son of one of the greatest killers that ever lived, which is why The Fraternity needs him. He is the only person alive who has a chance to take out Cross. Of course there’s a pretty predictable twist and a big explody completely ridiculous action climax as well. But this is a movie that requires a whole lot of suspension of disbelief. The assassins in this movie have such superhuman abilities that they can do impossible car stunts, shoot the wings off of flies in the air, and curve the path of bullets to shoot around corners. (That last was the subject of a Mythbusters episode. Busted of course.) Right from the start, when one of the assassins throws himself through a plate glass window and across a gap as big as a football field to the rooftop of an adjacent building, shooting three assailants while in the air, you know just what kind of magic is going on here.

Actually it’s a pretty well plotted piece of world building. Because it’s an origin story and we’re following this character who’s all new to these kinds of abilities we get to see pretty much the entire arsenal as the rules of the universe we’re watching are established. Then the latter half of the movie are all just playing around in that world and showing us just how much killing one pissed off super-assassin can do. There is a feel to the effects, to the constant slo-motion shots, especially to the car stunts, that does remind you of Timur’s work on Night Watch and Day Watch. Particularly nice is a sort of cameo appearance of Konstatin Khabenskiy who played Anton on those films as one of the assassins in The Fraternity.

I enjoy McAvoy’s performance as the terribly wussy Wesley, though I never really felt that his character came into his own. Maybe now that the world building and origin stuff are out of the way they’ll be able to show him as a bad ass super-assassin in the next two movies and get away from him as the put-upon nobody. It’s a treat to see Morgan Freeman as Sloan and he lends a much needed sense of class and gravitas to the picture. He also gets to be a little bad ass himself with the “Kill this motherfucker” monologue. I found Angelina Jolie rather distracting. Sure, it’s perfect casting. She is easily able to show with just a twitch of the lip and a raised eyebrow just how vastly superior she is to everybody else in the entire world. But her arms! My god – they’re so painfully thin in this movie. Every time she was on screen I found myself worrying that she was killing herself a little. Surely with the budget they had on this picture that’s something they could have fixed in post? Seriously, somebody make sure that woman is getting good, rich, nutritious meals – and get her a sweater or something.

You know what? I like this movie. It’s shallow and unbelievable and stupid, but so what? It’s still got some fun action scenes and I kind of want to see what else they’re going to do with the world in the proposed sequels. It doesn’t have the depth and power of the Night Watch and Day Watch movies. It’s kind of a let down to see Timur doing a pure Hollywood action flick I will admit, but it’s still good simple popcorn fun. Call it a guilty pleasure movie. Knowing what he’s capable of, though, I have hopes that the sequels will be better. Fingers crossed.

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November 4, 2010 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , ,

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