Tuesday, October 28, 2008
“I’m finding it hard to care about anything these days. In fact, the only thing I do care about is the fact that I can’t care about anything.
“Seriously, it worries me.”
“Insanity is wasting your life as a nothing when you have the blood of a killer flowing in your veins. Insanity is being sh!t on, beat down, coasting through life in a miserable existence when you have a caged lion locked inside and the key to release it.”
Wesley Allan Gibson (James McAvoy) is a sad, pathetic office drone abandoned by his father a mere seven days after he was born. Plagued by panic attacks and his unresolved daddy issues, Wesley sometimes wonders whether his father had in fact thought this mewling week-old infant was “the most insignificant a$hole of the 21st century.”
But all that changes when the lovely but deadly Fox (Angelina Jolie) enters his life, introducing Wesley to the Fraternity, and what appears to be Wesley’s own personal destiny.
Based on the comic book written by Mark Millar, Timur Bekmambetov’s Wanted takes the age-old tale of a young man’s journey of discovery as he comes into his own—as he realizes that he is, indeed, special—and turns it on its ear in a rollicking, madcap R-rated actioner.
Now, while I enjoyed the visual bravado Bekmambetov displayed in his previous films Nochnoy dozor (Night Watch) and Dvevnoy dozor (Day Watch), their scripts left much to be desired.
Here though, armed with a script by Michael Brandt, Derek Haas, and Chris Morgan (who, collectively, have worked on everything from Cellular to The Fast and the Furious sequels, to the 3:10 To Yuma remake), Bekmambetov manages to create his most solid work to date, fusing his volatile visual style with a narrative—certainly more coherent and propulsive than those of either of his past works—that explores a young man’s desire to find his proper place in the world, and in so doing, fulfilling every son’s need to step out from his father’s shadow, in order to truly find himself.
And helping Bekmambetov capture the rollicking imagery of this post-Matrix action thriller are the solid work of DP Mitchell Amundsen (who shot Transporter 2, Transformers, and, errr, the Hannah Montana and Jonas Brothers 3D concert films) and Oscar-winning editor David Brenner (a frequent collaborator of both Roland Emerich and Oliver Stone; talk about walking both sides of the fence).
Amudsen and Brenner are quite possibly the secret MVPs of Wanted.
“Now I know why I could never care about anything before this. I was living a lie.
“Finally, I have a chance to step into my father’s shoes. Grow a pair. Live the life I was born to live.
“I’ve been pissing it all away like it was another f*cking billing report.
“I have to train harder. I have to be as good as my father.”
Despite Jolie being the biggest marquee name here, the key performers in Wanted are undoubtedly McAvoy and Morgan Freeman, who plays Sloan, the head of the Fraternity, who deciphers the hidden codes that identify the targets these assassins of Fate need to take down.
While Freeman plays Sloan with his veteran air of articulate self-possession, McAvoy seems to effortlessly nail the transformative arc that Wesley undergoes over the course of the film, from cubicle loser to bullet-bending action hero, informing the character with just the right amount of humour, and nary a trace of his own Scottish accent.
It’s the presence of McAvoy and Freeman, the script’s streaks of wickedly black humour, and the genuine undercurrent of emotion that plays beneath Bekmambetov’s visual bombast, that make Wanted the wild—and ultimately satisfying—cinematic ride that it is.
“We don’t know how far the ripples of our decisions go. Kill one, and maybe, save a thousand. That’s the code of the Fraternity.
“That’s what we believe in, and that’s why we do it.”
(Wanted UK quad courtesy of impawards.com; images courtesy of empireonline.com and premiere.com.)