- Rated R
- Buy the Blu-ray
All photos © Universal Pictures
Reviewed by Jason Zingale
ver the past decade, comic book geeks have had the best of both worlds with big-budget Hollywood adaptations of their favorite superheroes and graphic novels, but a line has always separated the two. Sure, Robert Rodriguez made a giant leap in blurring that line with the release of "Sin City,” but director Timur Bekmambetov takes it to a whole new level with “Wanted,” a fast-paced, in-your-face cartoon come to life. It’s a welcome shot of adrenaline that would stir even the most high-strung candidate, and when it's all said and done, you’ll probably be itching for more.
James McAvoy stars as Wesley Gibson, a 9-to-5 office drone who suffers from panic attacks, has a girlfriend who cheats on him with his best friend, and is perpetually broke. In short, his life sucks, and when things couldn’t get any worse, Wesley is kidnapped by a mysterious woman named Fox (Angelina Jolie) and introduced into a secret clan of assassins called The Fraternity. Leading the band of gun-slinging killers is Sloan (Morgan Freeman), who has recruited Wesley to join The Fraternity after his father was killed by a rogue agent. Reluctant at first, Wesley eventually gives in to the tumultuous training program, accepting his fate as an assassin in order to track down his father's killer.
Based on the graphic novel by Mark Millar and J.G. Jones, “Wanted” is a studio exec’s male demographic wet dream. It has a decent story rooted in a cool mythos, plenty of bullet-time inspired action, and a respectable group of actors headlined by the always-sexy Angelina Jolie. The actress doesn’t do a whole lot other than look good and shoot guns, but that’s all that’s required of the role. James McAvoy, on the other hand, proves he has the mainstream appeal required to carry a big-budget action movie, and should he continue to mix roles like these with Oscar bait like “Atonement," the actor will be well on his way to becoming the next Christian Bale.
Of course, one doesn’t go to see a movie like “Wanted” for the people involved, but rather the jaw-dropping set pieces involving fast cars and curved bullets. It might come as a surprise that the film is pretty light in the kicking-ass-and-taking-names department after its explosive opening, but whenever there is action to be found, it’s virtually impossible to look away. Bekmambetov is a visual effects maestro (as he’s proven with the Russian fantasy films "Night Watch" and "Day Watch"), and though most of his SFX trickery is squandered before the end of the first act, he still stages a mean gunfight; one good enough to rival even the most impressive sequence from “Shoot ‘Em Up.” Add to that a dash of “Fight Club”-branded humor and a curious (albeit faint) similarity to the original "Matrix," and you’re looking at the ultimate male moviegoing experience. It’s not the best movie of the summer, but “Wanted” is so good at what it does that you should just sit back and enjoy the ride.
Single-Disc Blu-Ray Review:
Since adopting the format a few months ago, Universal has been on a roll with their Blu-rays, and their fine form is on full display with the single-disc release of “Wanted.” Highlighted by five production featurettes covering just about every aspect of the filmmaking process (pre-production, casting, special effects, visual effects and stunts), the HD release also includes a video profile of director Timur Bekmambetov, eight “motion comic” excerpts from the graphic novel, and a 10-minute featurette on the upcoming “Wanted” video game. Though that may be enough for the average fan, Blu-ray owners also get exclusive U-Control extras like a picture-in-picture video track of behind-the-scenes footage and interviews, a multi-angle feature for a handful of scenes, and an interactive dossier filled with facts about the various assassins and weapons that appear in the film. There’s also a really cool alternate opening that was probably cut to keep the Loom of Fate (and the bullet curving techinque) a secret, as well as a few BD-Live features that allow you to chat with friends or even record your very own audio commentary.