Movie Review

Mania Grade: B+

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  • Movie: Wanted
  • Rating: R
  • Starring: James McAvoy, Angelina Jolie, Morgan Freeman
  • Written By: Michael Brandt, Derek Haas, Chris Morgan
  • Directed By: Timur Bekmambetov
  • Distributor: Universal Pictures


Another Mania take on the action-packed new release

By Scott Mantz     June 27, 2008

Wes (James McAvoy) must shoot...and shoot well in WANTED(2008).
© Universal Pictures
What Wanted lacks in terms of originality, it more than makes up for with style and excitement. Based on the comic book series created by Mark Millar and J.G. Jones, the ultraviolent action thriller seamlessly channels the likes of John Woo and the Wachowski brothers. But if jaw-dropping stunts, gravity-defying car chases and double-barrel shoot-'em-ups don't do it for you, then the prospect of seeing Angelina Jolie flaunt her alluring sexuality probably will.

Twenty-five-year-old Wesley Gibson (James McAvoy) is miserable, and for good reason. He hates his job, his girlfriend is sleeping with his best friend and his sadistic boss won't get off his back. But all that changes when a gun-toting vixen (Angelina Jolie) saves his life and introduces him to the Fraternity-a secret society of assassins of which his legendary father was a member. Now it's Wesley's turn to be a natural born killer, but he must first survive a grueling training process that will make him regret the day he was born.

For better or worse, Wanted is derivative of so many movies, you practically need a scorecard to check them off. A son who is destined to be like his father, check (Star Wars); a cube-dwelling drone who is oblivious to his abilities, check (The Matrix); a blood-soaked initiation process, check (Fight Club); over-the-top gunfights, check (Shoot 'Em Up); Morgan Freeman in, well, the authoritative Morgan Freeman role, check (Batman Begins, Lucky Number Slevin).

But just when I lost hope that screenwriters Michael Brandt, Derek Haas and Chris Morgan might find a way to give Wanted an identity of its own, along came a last-act plot twist that really kicked the movie into high gear. And it's hard not to be blown away by the hyperkinetic direction of Timur Bekmambetov (Night Watch, Day Watch). There's no question that the Russian filmmaker is using every opportunity to show off with his American debut, but the resulting film is so relentlessly entertaining that it delivers the goods.

Up to this point, Scottish actor James McAvoy has had an impressive resume that includes The Last King of Scotland and Atonement. It's a foregone conclusion that Wanted is his most demanding role yet, and it's not because of the physical training that he had to go through to play a near-superhuman assassin. He also had to hold his own (which he does quite nicely) against Angelina Jolie, who seamlessly slips back into her sexy Mr. and Mrs. Smith mode following her critically-acclaimed performance in A Mighty Heart.

Wanted doesn't have an original bone in its adrenaline-fueled body, and it spends a little too much time focusing on Wesley's brutal initiation process. But as far as summer movies go, it does what it does exceptionally well, and you can't help but be won over by the confidence of its stylish, slick direction. The action can be over the top at times, but that's the beauty of it. And then, of course, there's Angelina Jolie, who isn't too shabby either.


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hanso 6/27/2008 6:19:39 AM
Can't wait to check out this movie this weekend. Really pumped for it although I wasn't in the beginning. Everything they've been showing looks great so they won me over. It's getting good reviews also. By the way, Wall-E is killin on the reviews. Love me some Wall E
fft5305 6/27/2008 7:09:44 AM
I think I'll be checking this out Sunday morning. I'll probably wait a few weeks on Wall E to avoid the largest part of the kid crowds.
captm0rgan77 6/27/2008 7:21:26 AM
Your both right. Um... I got nothing else to say. You both hit it on the head. RUM TIME!!!
djphillips25 6/27/2008 8:03:18 AM
Please, how original is anything these days. The Matrix was a blatant ripoff of Dark City and The Terminator and I cannot even begin to count how many movies have over the top gun fights. Or how about sons with daddy issues (Top Gun anyone?) As long as it does what it does in an entertaining fashion, who cares about originality? I don't, I just want to be entertained. And this movie does that in spades.
themacallan007 6/27/2008 9:05:53 AM
I understand originality has forever been lost in Hollywood but at least TRY and make it a little different than the Matrix lol
Hobbs 6/27/2008 9:52:47 AM
This looks like a fun movie. I'll probably check it out, sorry Hulk looks like I'll be seeing you on DVD instead of theater.<BR /><BR />Isn't McAvoy the guy Del Toro wants to play Bilbo? I thought I read that somewhere. I could see him as Bilbo.
almostunbiased 6/27/2008 10:23:54 AM
I just saw it. Very good. Great action, interesting story and although you can figure out what's coming ahead of time it's still a lot of fun. I'd give it an A- or maybe even better, just for style. Action, although rediculous, is an A .
hanso 6/27/2008 11:19:57 AM
Yo check this by Mark Millar:<BR itxtvisited="1" /><BR itxtvisited="1" />"PS: That Superman news is interesting, isn't it? In the interests of clarity (because I'm sure this will be picked up somewhere) a very well known American action director heard about my love of Superman, approached my and asked me to team up with he and his producer to make a pitch for this. We've been talking for several weeks now and, if this is going to happen, we'll know by Christmas. He has huge pull at WB so fingers crossed. But this is nothing more than a huge US name pulling me into his fold and making me part of a package."<BR itxtvisited="1" /><BR itxtvisited="1" />the man tryin to bring back Supes Could it be the action director he's talking about is none other than Wolfgang Petersen who has made 4 of his last 5 films with Warner Bros and at one time was rumored to be involved with the Batman vs. Superman film,hmmmmmmm?
Hobbs 6/27/2008 12:23:04 PM
hanso, WB would need to give Wolfgang a 700 mil budget to make it the way he wants...its not going to happen....besides this thread is about the "movie" Wanted....Not Wanted: Movie director for Superman.
hanso 6/27/2008 12:29:17 PM
Well since the guy who wrote Wanted is the one talkin about Supes and it's a dream of his to write the film for it, I think it's worth mentioning.<BR itxtvisited="1" /><BR itxtvisited="1" />And it can't be called Wanted: Movie director for Superman, because if you read they already have the director, they just aint saying. <BR itxtvisited="1" />It would have to be Wanted: Guess who's directing Superman.
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