I don’t usually say things like this but there’s just something about “Wanted” that brings out the boy in me so you’ll just have to indulge me. “Wanted” is awesome! Seriously. Awesome. Well, it’s awesome and also oddly preachy and condescending out of nowhere. And I guess if I’m being completely honest, it is also ludicrous. I mean, essentially, you’ve got this guy, Wesley Gibson (James McAvoy) and, unbeknownst to him, he is the son of one of the world’s greatest assassins. Apparently, the ability to hit a target in the most impossible of scenarios is passed on from one generation to the next. (See, I always thought it skipped a generation but I’m hardly an expert on the subject.) Meanwhile, what’s he doing with this gift? Nothing. He is sitting around, wasting his time as a number cruncher in a cramped little box, I mean, cubicle, while letting his supposed best bud get away with nailing his girl on the side. (I apologize if that was offensive to any female readers but “Wanted” really got my testosterone pumping.) Frankly, I don’t know how this wussy little pushover even managed to get a girlfriend but he can also shoot the wings off flies so his having a girl is pretty believable by comparison. By the way, shooting the wings off flies … awesome!
Really, what is the more ludicrous scenario here? Is it any more unbelievable that there is a thousand year old group of assassins out there who kill bad guys before they fulfill their bad guy destinies than the reality that a vast majority of humanity gives the bulk of their lives away to the bad guys every day, contributing to their own slow deaths? When you think about how many of us are giving up our dreams, our hopes and our control over our own lives, it’s a wonder more of us don’t get up and become killing machines. In case you haven’t figured it out yet, I work in one of these lovely boxes. I swear, every day I’m there, it’s getting a little smaller. So yeah, my friends had to hold me down to stop me from standing and cheering loudly when Gibson grows a pair and tells his boss to stick it before slamming his ergonomic keyboard into his best friend’s face. There isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t want to tell everyone I work with (who hopefully never read my work) exactly what I think of them before breaking out into a musical number with full choreography announcing my departure.
Uh, sorry, my testosterone must have dipped there for a second. No problem though. Another screening of “Wanted” will fix that. Contemporary visual innovator Timur Bekmanbetov crams so much manliness into his first Hollywood feature that men everywhere who see it will inevitably walk out with their hands firmly grabbing their crotches. They may even spit. Who knows? You’ve got colliding car chases, furious fistfights, enormous explosions and Angelina Jolie. The best part about all of this is that Bekmanbetov ropes it all together with unpredictable ferocity. Sure there are unavoidable “Matrix” inspired action scenes but once those are out of the way, the action always feels fresh and excitingly innovative. And while the stunts and scenarios are often shockingly brash, Jolie, as Gibson’s assassin mentor, is controlled and calculated, like a mechanical goddess. She appears to Gibson when he looks away for a second and for a while, it seems like he might be imagining her as a way out of his doldrums. Once she gets a few good punches in on him during training though, it becomes clear that she is definitely there to wake him up but his scars are most certainly not imagined.
“Wanted” is about wanting something from life, from yourself. It is about not giving in to the conformist existence so many of us fall into and choosing to walk a different path, a more exciting path. Now I don’t think it’s encouraging everyone to leave their desk jobs and kill people professionally. That has to run in your family, remember? There is no mistake though that Bekmanbetov wants to wake you up. In fact, he gets a little aggressive on the subject in the film’s final scenes. This is the only thing that irked me about the entire experience. I had already a blast the whole time that the energy itself was enough to get my blood boiling over the monotony of my weekday life. Up until then, it seemed as though he had sympathy for Gibson and the millions of us out there just like Gibson. But then, all of a sudden, he was pointing the finger directly at me and calling me a loser to my face. Still, maybe getting everyone angry is the only way to get anyone to actually do something about it.
Review by Joseph Bélanger