STUDIO: Universal Studios
MSRP: $22.99
RUNNING TIME: 110 minutes
• Extended Scene
Cast and Characters
Stunts on the L Train
Special Effects: The Art of the Impossible
Groundbreaking Visual Effects: From Imagination to Execution
The Origins of Wanted: Bringing the Graphic Novel to Life
Through the Eyes of Visionary Director Timur Bekmambetov
Wanted: Motion Comics
The Little Things Music Video
The Making of Wanted: The Game
• Digital Copy
Code of the Fraternity Easter Egg

The Pitch

It’s Office Space meets The Matrix with a layover in Fight Clubville.

The Humans

James McAvoy, Angelina Jolie, Morgan Freeman, Common, Thomas Kretschmann, Terence Stamp.

The Nutshell

An office-working nobody, Wesley Gibson (McAvoy), suffers from anxiety attacks, a shitheel, fat bitch of a boss, and the knowledge that his best friend is screwing his annoying girlfriend but does nothing about it.  He has his worthless life completely changed when he finds out that his father was one of the greatest assassins in the world.  His father was not only an assassin, but belonged to a secret guild of assassins called The Fraternity, who have had the creed to kill one to potentially save a thousand for centuries.  Headed by Sloan (Freeman), who dispatches assignments he receives from a karmic loom, the Fraternity is after Cross, a rogue agent who has declared war on them and killed Wesley’s father.  Cross is now after Wesley as well and it’s up to Fox (Jolie) to train him to prepare to take Cross out.  This training includes, among other things, learning how to curve bullets.

The Lowdown

There’s somewhat of a balancing act involved when watching Wanted.  You have to check your brain at the door, but still keep enough neurons firing so that you can still process the amazing visuals.  Because it’s said visuals that really make this film worthwhile when a good amount of it is ridiculousness.  But the thing is,
Wanted knows this perfectly well and has the same message to reason and logic that Wesley had for his friend with the keyboard: Impossible?  Fuck.  Implausible?  You.  Incredible?  With. A. Bullet.  It’s a smorgasbord of cartoonish action and adrenaline that delights at every turn.

The premise is simple enough and caters to both fanboy and even regular human fantasy: to be presented with the opportunity to become something extraordinary, outside the bounds of the drudgery of everyday, boring life.  And Wesley Gibson is all of us in that regard.  His life is meaningless, pointless, banal.  Then someone looking like Angelina Jolie shows up right in front of him and next thing you know you’re racing through the streets trying to get an upskirt look while she’s driving upside down, dodging both automobiles and bullets.  Delicious.

Subsequently, Angelina’s stalkerazzi problem has dropped to almost nothing…

But what’s even better, Morgan Freeman tells you that you’re a potential badass.  What’s not to like in that situation?  In
that regard,
Wanted is spot on, taking Wesley down the exact route that
any number of us have only dared to dream about.  But then it throws in
things like curving bullets, super-healing hot wax spa treatments,
adrenaline rushes that allow you to perceive the world in bullet time
and jump through a plate glass window from one building to another and
rats jacked on peanut butter and astrolite.  You know it’s fantastical, and you don’t care.  You’re just waiting for the next asshole with an arcing bullet headed for his cranium.

“Dude, wait, don’t shoot!  I’m just a guy ‘on the low end tryin’ to ball and get over.'”
“Bullshit, I saw your dog sitting by your yoga mat.”
“Okay, go ahead…”

McAvoy is good as Wesley, and perfectly conveys the reactions that any of us would have in the same situation.  He’s especially effective because McAvoy isn’t the size of The Rock nor Vin Diesel.  Hell, he’s not even the size of one of their arms.  He an ordinary guy and yet is able to pull off the physicality.  He’s freaked by the whole experience yet can’t wait to get more.  He can’t believe the person and he’s turning into and the steps he’s willing to take to get there.  More importantly, he can’t believe the person he was to begin with.  His character arc is greater than that of any of his bullets. 

Wesley learned the hard way it was probably best not to bring up that whole Billy Bob vial of blood thing…

was sort of surprised to catch Jolie in this movie.  I wouldn’t have
figured that she’d want to do another action / assassin movie not that
far removed from Mr. & Mrs. Smith and the Lara Croft flicks.  Her
Fox isn’t as complex as Jane Smith; quite the opposite in fact. 
She’s rather uncomplicated and absolutely clear of mind about her place
in the world and unapologetic about it.  She gets a name, she pulls the
trigger, no matter who it is.  Freeman is also fine as Sloan, and I
like the turn that his character takes.  If there’s one complaint I
have about him, however, it’s that I didn’t buy that he’d fall for that
last scene.  Another issue I had is that both Common and Thomas Kretschmann were underutilized.

…And especially not that Jennifer Aniston GQ cover subject…

Timur Bekmambetov has a fantastic eye and knows what his audience is looking for in this film: balls to the wall action, and he delivers it in spades.  I think the choice to ground the movie more in reality than the comic was the right way to go, because the juxtaposition of the fantastic with mundane sets the film’s contrasts off even more.  Wanted isn’t interested in explaining itself.  Isn’t interested in rationality, physics or biochemistry.  It simply says, “This is the way we’re going with things.  Eat a caontouring slug if you don’t like it.  I find that simply refreshing.

“So what does this say exactly?”
“It’s my bucket list.  You got yours ready yet, kid?”
“No, why?”
“No reason…”

The Package

Wanted looks good and you don’t even need a Blu-ray version of the film to get off on the great visuals.  Sound is available in English, French and Spanish 5.1 with accompanying subtitles.  A feature I’m enjoying more and more is the Descriptive Video Service, especially in the running deathfest scene near the end of the movie.  There
are several production featurettes, mostly about the stunts, special
effects and the original comic series.  There’s an extended scene where
Wesley is learning about shooting the dead body and getting acquainted
with a gun.  Cast and Characters runs 20 minutes, Stunts on the L Train is a quickie three-minute piece and Special Effects: The Art of the Impossible
runs eight minutes.  That latter featurette shows how they did the
flipping Viper bit and it involved putting an actual mock car on a
rolling stunt harness with McAvoy and Jolie inside it.  Groundbreaking Visual Effects: From Imagination to Execution totals eight minutes and concerns the computer visual effects portion of the production.  The Origins of Wanted: Bringing the Graphic Novel to Life also tallies about eight minutes and features Mark Millar testimony. 

Through the Eyes of Visionary Director Timur Bekmambetov runs nine minutes and spotlights Bekmambetov and his shooting style.  Wanted: Motion Comics are 13 minutes of animated art from the comics with voiceover.  The Little Things music video is included, as is The Making of Wanted: The Game, which totals about 10 minutes.  There’s an Easter egg called Code of the Fraternity, which prompts you to input a binary code to unlock hidden content.  Finally, there’s a digital copy of the film to round out the offerings.

8.1 out of 10