Sunday, August 17, 2008
Director: Timur Bermakbetov
Cast: Angelina Jolie, James McAvoy
Morgan Freeman, Thomas Kretschmann, Terence Stamp
Wesley Gibson (McAvoy) is an accountant who works in a cubicle with a boss he hates, has a girlfriend who is cheating on him with his best friend and has fifteen dollars on his bank account.
His life is pathetic, "just like yours" as Wesley assumes of the audience as he addresses us.
One day a mysterious woman named Fox (with that name who else could it be but Jolie?) saves him from a man (Kretschmann) trying to kill him.
He later learns that Fox is part of a secret society of assassins aptly called "The Fraternity", led by the mysterious Sloan (Freeman) who reveals to Wesley that the father he never knew was also a member of their society who was recently murdered by a renegade who betrayed them.
Wesley then is trained to avenge his late father and escape his ho hum life.
Members of "The Fraternity" have the special ability to raise their heartbeats to four hundred per minute, which causes an adrenaline rush so high that they can perceive the world around them in a completely different way and can manipulate time and space; power that Wesley had mistaken with panic attacks (suddenly making Woody Allen all the more comprehensible...).
These assassins can jump off high buildings, walk atop moving trains and curve bullets (which is expected to be the "whoa" inducing element for audiences), they have glamorous badass lives and believe they are fulfilling some sort of heavenly deed with their motto that by killing one they can save a thousand.
The visuals are simply stunning and the action sequences constantly push themselves into "what else can they do now?" territory, McAvoy's geekiness makes for a cute Peter Parker sort of thing and Jolie struts her stuff so well that you don't really need her to do much talking (which she curiously doesn't get to do much of either, she justs sits in the back grinning and narrowing her eyes).
But the film's problem isn't its preposterousness (you are after all sitting in a theater watching an Angelina Jolie summer film...), but the fact that it chooses to be so awfully condescending to its audience and then can't muster up the balls to stick to its hedonist view.
Wesley is supposed to be the everyman, a creature extracted from a version of "Fight Club" for the mentally challenged, but as it exploits the sick nature of violence and murder and reduces it to innocent teenage fantasies one has to also wonder what has made the filmmakers so sure that everyone hates their life?
What if there is someone out there who actually loves sitting in a cubicle working numbers? Why do people need to desire extravagant lifestyles as the only outlook for happiness?
Not to be confused with conformism, "Wanted" assumes every member of the audience has a fourteen year old, gun loving, horny teenager inside of them.
One for that matter, that eventually will outgrow this, atone for his sins and move on to an elightened, yet exciting, life.
If "Wanted" had been made in some obscure Eastern European country and was subtitled, people would accuse it of being subversive and inviting people to become murderers, but because it is American, released during the summer and stars Jolie's breasts, it's just seen as harmless fun.