Cinema review: Wanted

July 6 2008 at 2:26 pm (Cinema reviews)

This film has understandably had some very mixed reviews. If you’re in the mood for a bit of fast action nonsense then it’s great. If you’re not, then it’s terrible. Put the two points of view together and what you end up with is a pretty decent action blockbuster.

In many ways, this is the blockbuster that the summer had been waiting for. Because there is no well established previous incarnation for it to live up for, it doesn’t have to try to better anything that has gone before it.

James McAvoy plays Wesley Gibson, a wage slave who longs for something better. When he meets the gun-toting Fox, everything changes. Discovering some impressive super powers, he quits his job in spectacular fashion and joins the shadowy Fraternity, a team of adrenaline charged assassins.

As plots go, it’s a bit derivative. In fact it appears to be an adolescent male fantasy just sort of, ahem, splurged onto the screen – McAvoy gets to snog Angelina Jolie, bend bullets and drive fast cars.

Judging by the way McAvoy’s career has developed, his presence in this film would be enough to fool anyone into thinking that this might be an intelligent film. But as Ben Kingsley proves with his recent revelation that he loves summer blockbusters because they remind him Rome times, you can be a ‘worthy’ actor and still cross over into big budget fare.

The truth is that James McAvoy can cut the mustard as an action star proving there is nothing he cannot do. Angelina Jolie is typically pouty and robotically perfect, apparently only in the movie to keep the target audience happy. Morgan Freeman lends his trademark gravitas to the proceedings, although it never quite feels right hearing him use the ‘f word’. However, the real star is director Timur Bekmambetov bringing the same edgy directing style he honed in Night Watch and Day Watch to a big budget summer blockbuster.

This film is far from intelligent but for the most part it is fun, with a tongue placed so far in its cheek that it’s in danger of split open in a burst of splattery gore. The stupidness of the plot and the sheer ludicrousness of the action is all well and good when the film isn’t taking itself too seriously which is the first two thirds. Then people start waffling on about the Loom of Fate and the silliness just gets a bit too much. The finale is so overblown and so reliant on slow-mo and gore that this exciting, funny action movie becomes just like all the rest. Why can’t summer blockbusters provide a decent final act?

That can be forgiven, but what cannot be forgiven is the way in which it patronises its audience. The film revels in telling you that you are a loser who should get off your arse and start doing something. Frankly, being told by a weaving machine to kill people is not something worth aspiring to.
Rating: 3/5

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