Review: Wanted

When Mark Millar wrote Wanted in 2003, his idea was to create a world where supervillains were the anti-heroes. Wesley Gibson was a nod to Keanu Reeve's Thomas A. Anderson from The Matrix trilogy in that he lived a relatively unnoticed life where he was constantly walked on by everyone. Gibson learns that he has an assassin's blood in him when he finds out his father died and he is approached by Fox, another assassin that invites him to join the Fraternity. Here he is desensitized to violence and pain and taught to harness and control his keen assassin skills, which he eventually uses to take over the fraternity (wiping out most of them in the process). Fast forward five years to 2008, and we have Timur Bekmambetov's (of Daywatch and Nightwatch fame) take on the Millar series of anti-heroes. While not quite a strict following of the comic predecessor, Wanted the film does have some of the nods to the comic that I'm sure fans will love, but overall it was really just another Hollywood film using an already recognized name to sell a movie. The film starts off enough like the comic, and that Gibson (James McAvoy) works at a crappy job while his girlfriend stays home and is cheating on him with his best friend (who takes daily extended coffee breaks to do so). His life is pretty non-descript until one night when he's at the pharmacy getting a prescription filed for his anxiety medicine to combat what he thinks are panic attacks (more on that later). And then he meets Fox (Angelina Jolie), who is there to save him from the same assassin that recently killed his father. From there its one assassination after another, as Gibson is trained to become the true assassin that he is. The film gradually becomes less comic-inspired as it progresses, as you realize that Bekmambetov loosely based this film on the comic. He decided that the Fraternity would instead originally be weavers that noticed that one particular loom of theirs would misweave some pieces of cloth, which somehow could translate to binary code, and eventually to the alphabet to name your target. Also, this time around we were looking at assassins (not supervillains) as the protagonists, who I suppose have more a viable case for being called "heroes" than supervillains do. McAvoy was convincing enough as Gibson, but I guess being in Atonement right before this kept that mousy character fresh in his head. Angelina Jolie is there for sex appeal more than anything, as she essentially played the same role she plays in Tomb Raider and Mr. and Mrs. Smith, the hot badass chick. Common is severely underutilized as the Gunsmith, and Morgan Freeman somewhat unsuccessfully tries to pull off being a bad guy in Sloan (that's the problem when guys like him and Harrison Ford in What Lies Beneath try to play bad seems kind of forced). For an assassin movie, Bekmambetov did infuse the film with some pretty intense action sequences of violence (cue the "R" rating) that were obviously Matrix-inspired. Pretty much every death was bullet or knife related, however the effect of curving the bullet was somewhat novel. There's a particularly awesome scene when Gibson storms the castle so to speak and singlehandedly lays waste to all the's pretty badass. Storywise, its pretty plain, with something that tries to be a twist at the end, but if you're paying attention over the course of the movie you can kind of see it coming. And of course there's the epic symbolism at the end as Gibson tries to maneuver his way through fallen and tangled threads as a result of the looms in the textile factory becoming a disjointed mess (what a tangled web we weave). Overall, it wasn't an awful movie, but it also wasn't great either. It was only loosely based on the comic, so true fans of the Millar six-issue miniseries may be disappointed. But for moviegoers looking for an ultra-violent assassin movie and nothing more, than Wanted is exactly what you're looking for. But you could probably wait until the DVD release to check it out. Overall review: 65 out of 100