James McAvoy, Angelina Jolie, Morgan Freeman
Michael Brandt, Derek Haas, Chris Morgan
I can't really say that I "enjoyed" "Wanted," a pedal-to-the-metal action flick starring James McAvoy ("Atonement") as Wesley, a frustrated office worker who is picked up in a bar one night by Fox (Angelina Jolie) and in short time told that he's not part of The Fraternity, a centuries old group of assassins who knock out bad guys (or at least try). The Fraternity is led, not surprisingly, by Morgan Freeman, who can and nearly does phone in this performance. The rest of the film, essentially, consists of increasingly violent and dramatic ways of "hazing" Wesley into The Fraternity so that he, in turn, can turn in the badass assassin that we are told his father was years ago.
Despite being a pacifist myself, I can deal with violent films. While I've never been a fan of gratuitous violence, of which there's plenty here, I'm largely successful at letting go of my own value system and going where the filmmaker wants me to go. Timur Bekmambetov, a Russian action flick director, is at the helm here and he basically goes full throttle and never lets go.
"Wanted," based upon a video game, seems like the sort of film that Uwe Boll wants to direct. It is almost wholly devoid of anything resembling heart or mind, and relies almost solely upon action to forward the storyline and character development (what little there is).
Yet, surprisingly, "Wanted" is unexpectedly entertaining. Despite the script's overall lackings, McAvoy makes Wesley undergo a primal, quite visible shift from timid officeworker to kick ass assassin. Despite Jolie's star power, "Wanted" is McAvoy's film and Jolie's just along for the ride. Similarly, Freeman has played so many characters like this one that it's difficult to tell at times if he's acting or just rehashing same lines/different character.
"Wanted" ends up working far better than it should largely because Bekmambetov never lets up. The film is laden with special effects and while the action is nonsensical at times it is also so completely non-stop that you don't have time to be bothered by it.
Thus, "Wanted" ends up being an action flick for those who like their action non-stop, violent and stylized. Somewhat reminiscent of "District B13," but lacking that film's charm, "Wanted" is a modest, guilty pleasure that is likely to satisfy its target audience but unlikely to win over any new fans to the action genre.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic