Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Timur Bekmambetov's "Wanted" (2008)


Wanted is a fast paced action film that should please any summer movie goer. Timur Bekmambetov, director of the two Russian vampire films Night Watch and Day Watch, is a visionary artist when it comes to his films. Even the subtitles for the region one DVD release of Night Watch were stylish. Wanted is no different. Right from the beginning of this film the viewer automatically knows what kind of film this film thinks it is. What kind is that, you might ask? A fun one, and not a very serious one at that.

There's a sarcastic tone from our main character Wes right from the start that carries heavy throughout most of the film. He's a down and out guy who has not much going for him. His girlfriend cheats on him with his best friend, he hates his job, and he hates his boss. When Fox finds him things change. He is inducted into the Fraternity, a group of secret assassin's. After training him, he sets out on his mission to avenge his dads death. Revenge remains the main theme for the rest of the film and is what carries the action on and on. I will stop there with the plot details. This film has a very legitimate twist or two. Normally, you might not see such a change in story. Things might typically be more streamlined, but this was not the case. The ending left me happy and I hope it does for you. I was prepared for the worst, most typical action film conclusion and admittedly got the complete opposite.

Another aspect of this high octane action film that is different from some others of the like is that the acting is actually pretty solid. James McAvoy is a rising star as shown in Atonement and other previous work. Here he shows his versatility as an action hero. I really enjoyed his voice over. I found the humor to my liking. Angelina Jolie doesn't need to do much to appear in place in a film like this. You might find yourself starring at her too much. Morgan Freeman, in a rather non Morgan Freeman like role, is wonderful. These performances help keep this from being too mindless, which is sometimes a good thing.

I've heard people complain about the story in this film. I can't understand this complaint at all. Perhaps for someone like me, a fan of classic film noir, the plot stands out a little more. I personally love the whole secret group of hit man concept. Thinking back on it more now, this film carries a few elements of noir. Fox, in her role, is a classic femme fatale. A few of the other male characters are rather ambiguous in terms of motives. I'm getting way ahead of myself here but I'm essentially trying to explain why I think I enjoyed the plot. It wasn't confusing, anyone who says that didn't pass 5th grade yet. It was simple, added great motivation for the characters, and provided great action. Upon leaving my theater I heard one person say "that was retarded" or something of that nature. Anyone who thinks Wanted is retarded might actually be retarded themselves. Alright, that's mean, but seriously? If you go into Wanted thinking it's going to be something it isn't, you need to start thinking more. If you watch the first 20 minutes of this film and still think it is what it isn't, you might be brain dead. There is absolutely no reason as to why a person can't enjoy Wanted.

Wanted is a satisfying release in the midst of terrible summer blockbusters. Every summer we get a handful of quality action and big budget films and Wanted appears to be the first of them in the dog days of summer 2008. Grab a friend and go check this film out in theaters before it's too late, as the experience does it justice.

4 OUT OF 5 STARS

1 comment:

superradbrian said...

Brian from LL here:
Personally, I have to disagree with this review. I'd say that 9/10 I feel you are spot on with your reviews, and sadly this one is in that terrible 10%.

First off, I loved Night Watch and Day Watch. I managed to catch both at the local independent theater and they were a treat to watch.

This movie's plot completely was a complete misfire in my opinion. Obviously I didn't expect anything deep from this movie, but when it started to touch on the really interesting subjects at the heart of this movie it would immediately turn away.

For example, I found the assassin's blind faith in who they should kill an interesting concept.
Wes gets convinced that he should have faith in their targets in a 2 minute conversation. T

I think the acting was very good especially for this type of film, but any good acting felt wasted under some strange directorial choices. How many slow motion close ups do we need of James MacAvoy panting and sweating? I think one was more then enough, but they went back to that well way too many times. Angelina Jolie plays her part well, but the part was very uninteresting.

Also, I thought the action itself was disappointing. The final action sequence was definitely awesome [and almost made me want to like the rest of the movie, it is one very, very cool sequence], but some of the other scenes were surprisingly boring to me. The scene on the train for example, felt stale. Again, it felt almost uninspired how many times bullets collided in that scene. With a basically "no rules" in regards to physics, they could've found some other cool ways for that shootout to play out.

Overall, I can't justify giving this movie more then 2 stars. As a fan of the high octane action, I'm almost confused as to why I couldn't get into this one. My friend said to me after we saw it "that wasn't that good and it wasn't bad enough to make up for it". I think that quote sums up my opinion of the movie fairly well. I guess maybe the flashes of a smarter, better movie in there made me convinced that more could've came from this.