Tuesday, July 1, 2008

"Kill One, Save a Thousand"

"Wanted", directed by Timur Bekmambetov, actually turned out to be fun and entertaining for the most part. It came complete with a plot twist here, a narrative metaphor there, and a twist on meaning somewhere else. I was not expecting an actual basic story but rather a measly excuse to link flipping cars, Guiness World Record bullet physics and acrobatic A-list actors together. But they did a decent job at providing the former.

James McAvoy (of "Atonement" fame) is Wesley Gibson, a bored, stressed, panic attack-plagued accounts manager who drags himself through each day having to face his malevolent boss and backstabbing best friend who is sleeping with Gibson's girlfriend. A routine visit to the pharmacy leads him to a mysterious woman (Angelina Jolie) who tells him that his father, one of the world's greatest assassins, was killed on the rooftop by the second world's greatest assassin, a man named Cross. After the obligatory car chase, Gibson is introduced to Sloan (Morgan Freeman) who invites Gibson to join the Fraternity, a millennium-old society of secret assassins whose job is restore order to the world by killing particular targets. Gibson, not wanting to go back to his dreadful life, decides to take his father's place in the society and pursue Cross for revenge.

As far the hyperkinetics go, I suppose I should be glad that the writers at least took the time to explain why all that crap was happening. As much of an action film fan as I am, I've never liked them, even when why they were happening made sense, because they always looked silly. Sometimes, not even the explanations make the mile-high jumping and impact surviving look any better. In this movie, Gibson's excuse for all this is that he has super-strength and accelerated healing, and he still seems to unsensibly survive certain situations. But characters making the most thought-out decisions in a matter of microseconds, surviving wrecks and crashes that would easily kill a number in the hundreds, and easily shooting targets that the most trained and calm snipers in the galaxy would miss are staples of the action genre that date back to early 1940's kung-fu films.

There were times when the dialogue and acting seemed amateur, but I couldn't really tell if that was because of the actors or the director not shooting the scene right (most likely the latter). The special effects in a few scenes, particularly the train wreck, came out a bit shoddy. It almost appeared as if they just filmed a toy train falling down a clearly fake cliff. And they destroy the infinitely miniscule bit of credibility the film had by setting a rule for what these highly-trained assassins can do, and in a later scene defying that rule and throwing it out the window. Or so it appeared to me, I mean, limiting a character's abilities is part of what makes them realistic, right?

But despite these things, I thought the overall film was enjoyable. I'm definitely inspired to read the graphic novel.


  1. Don't Feed The PixiesJuly 4, 2008 at 7:16 AM

    Is this the one where the speeding car slews across the road and the hero finds himself slammed, without injury, into the passenger seat?

    I've seen the adverts and thought it looked a bit Matrix-y

    Special effects will only take you so far - as The Phantom Menace proved beyond any doubt

  2. When I first saw previews for this movie, I thought it was going to be an awful hollywood comedy about assassins. They used the pharmacy scene as the main setup for the movie plot. I was confused when I started hearing good reviews about the high-octane action movie by the same name, until I realised they were the same movie.

    My expectations for this movie are still rather low, but maybe this weekend if I'm craving for an action flick, I'll check it out.

  3. I really want to see this movie! I love James! It sounds great--glad you enjoyed it.

  4. oh is it based on a graphic novel?? so i read the first paragraph because I wanted to see this movie - and you gave it a good review ... so i will go see it and then come back and comment. (like you really needed to hear this long-winded comment) ... but thanks for the recommendation!!!

  5. You watch a lot of movies! That's great, cause you review them in a very good and detailed way. :)
    Thanks for the recommendation! I'll put this movie on my "movies I have to see soon"-list.

  6. I finally watched this movie and I really liked it. i think it was because at the very beginning - they set it up for what it is. A graphic novel - movie. Not meant to follow the regular rules, not meant to be serious in character development, ... it sets up the exepctations appropriately, lets the audience know what it's getting in the first fifteen minutes, and then goes on to be that kind of movie.

    What made me laugh is that after the movie, my friends the only part that "pulled" them out of the movie and didn't seem realistic was the part about how quickly the rats move into the castle. Funny. They had no problem with the trains, the bullets, the healing. None. the rats ......

  7. The Clandestine SamuraiSeptember 8, 2008 at 7:51 AM

    You're absolutely right, the film does set us up for what to expect throughout the story and tells us not to take it seriously. But my point was, even in all the wackiness and exaggeration I think there should be some sort of limits to adhere to in order to make it a "real" world in a sense. There are parts where the film defies those limits.


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