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Wanted A Balletic Action Film of Tremendous Execution


Directed by Timur Bekmambetov
Written by Michael Brandt, Derek Haas, and Chris Morgan from the comic book by Mark Millar and J.G. Jones
Universal, 2008

Back in 1999, the Wachowski Brothers started the trend of finding indie directors to command big blockbuster pictures when they unleashed The Matrix. Soon after, it was Sam Raimi, Christopher Nolan, and Bryan Singer joining the fray. Timur Bekmambetov is a bit different: he did the Night Watch series (the third, Twilight Watch, comes out next year), which is the biggest franchise ever released in Russia. So in one way, he’s a relatively unknown indie director here in the States, but practically Steven Spielberg in his native land.

Wanted is a lot of different movies: The Matrix, The Terminator, Minority Report, a little John Woo, a little bit Bekmambetov’s own Night Watch, and Star Wars. But yet, it has the feel of being all its own movie, especially with a twist coming towards the end that is a bit unexpected (I kind of half-heartedly guessed this possibility early on, but it doesn’t detract from the overall when it happens).

Wesley Gibson (James McAvoy), like Neo, has a boring job and he “doesn’t know who he is.” He knows at this moment he’s a wimp, and his best friend Barry (Chris Pratt) is banging his girlfriend Cathy (Kristen Hager). Before he can quite get acquainted with this hottie named, appropriately, Fox (Angelina Jolie), that approaches him in a drug store, she’s telling him that hey, your dad actually died yesterday, not years ago, and the guy who killed him, named Cross (Thomas Kretschmann), is right behind him ready to kill the son as well.

After escaping that, Fox takes Gibson to a secret society begun by weavers a thousand years ago. Their leader is Sloan (Morgan Freeman), and much like Morpheus he wants Gibson to be “the one” but not in the same tradition as Neo. He just happens to be “the one” who can kill Cross, a disgruntled former member of the “fraternity” of assassins. Why him? We’ll find out. For now, there’s lots of training, getting beaten up and learning how to harness a kind of power that is not fully explained…it’s a bit of the tunnel vision, but the kind of tunnel that leads to kicking ass. And there’s the matter of curving a fired bullet, too.

The movie has a lot of balls. I’d like to have seen Universal’s execs’ faces when the final outcome of this movie was shown to them. This is pure bloody action with a sci-fi tang and it may not lend itself to sequels down the road should it be a success. Of course, I’m probably being stupid about that, but whatever. Wanted is like a whole trilogy condensed into a two-hour flick, and for the most part it’s an exciting ride, one of the better films of the summer.

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