Reel Society

Reviews for the latest movies in theaters and on DVD.

Wanted

 
Review by David Tredler
 
After having smashed Russian box-office records, Timur Bekmambetov answers to the call of Hollywood to bring to the screen Mark Millar and J.G. Jones’ graphic novel “Wanted”. It would be foolish to expect more than a high-octane, stylished action movie.

With his Nightwatch / Daywatch diptych, the Russian filmmaker showed us his overflowing imagination combined with a strong visual ambition. The films went a bit everywhere but were undoubtedly the signs of a director with great creative abilities in the fantastic and action department. Abilities he clearly confirms here if you close your eyes on a few scientific weaknesses.

Wanted follows Wesley Gibson (James McAvoy), a shy and unambitious accounts manager working in his cubicle all day long. Until one day, when he learns his father, who he never knew, was actually a deadly assassin working for a secret organization called The Fraternity. Wesley has his father’s talents in his blood, and just needs a bit of training to reveal them. The gorgeous femme fatale Fox (Angelina Jolie)  will take care of making him the man he is supposed to be, in order to avenge his father’s death.

This is the kind of film that makes you feel a bit geekier that you already are. The adrenalin, the danger, the sexiness, the power, all this entering a world and a life that could be yours or mine. It is this classic fantasy that someday, someone looking like Angelina Jolie will enter your life and tell you that you are destined for something different, something exciting, something dangerous, something great.

Amazingly, this is what makes Wanted  a great summer film. This coexistence between the ordinary life and an extraordinary new path. The normal penetrating the fantasy, and the other way around. Casting James McAvoy in the lead clearly helps the audience get hooked, as the young Scot isn’t your typical action hero. The film, however, starts to fizzle when it stops being interested in this mix of the ordinary and the extraordinary, which is when the pure, expected action invades the screen and plays more like a giant videogame.

This is not a revolutionary action film. This is not mind-blowing. But this is exciting and jubilatory enough to forgive its few wanderings. You want fun? You’ll get fun.

3 / 5 stars

 

 
 
 

Review by Chris Maitland

In a summer filled with superheroes, animated robots and washed up archaelogists making a comeback, it was nice to see something diverse. And when I say diverse, I mean an action film filed with lots and lots of violence, style and more swearing than a room full of sailors.  When it comes to action films, Wanted hits the nail right on the head. Rarely has a film had the right mix of action, laughs, sarcasm, effects, blood, great acting, a great story and twists galore.

Without giving too much away, the story focuses on a man named Wesley Gibson (the amazing James McAvoy); he is a pill-popping loser at an office job who lives a boring life and doesn’t stand up to anyone when he gets pushed around. This all changes one night when he meets a woman named Fox (Angelina Jolie), an assassin who takes Wesley's life by storm.  In no time, Wesley is learning the trade of killing from The Fraternity, which led by a man named Sloan (Morgan Freeman).

This movie is pretty much perfect throughout. This film never loses its pace and is one of the best times you will have the movies all year. I was mesmerized throughout. I really do believe that James McAvoy deserves at least an Oscar nomination for his performance; it is truly up to that caliber.  I can’t even put into words how great this film is. It not only succeeds as an action picture; it dives deeper than that, and forever will change the action genre. This is movie is pumped with adrenaline, bad-ass action and laughs that you will have no choice but to stand and cheer and pump you fist as the end credits roll.  Wanted truly shines throughout and I believe this is the best film of the year so far.

5 / 5 stars
 
 
 

Review by Paul Edwards

Lights, Camera, ACTION!  If that is what you expect from Wanted, that’s what you’ll get (and not much else).
 
To begin, we meet Wesley Gibson (James McAvoy) in his humdrum cubicle life as he explains to us his horrible working conditions. Even though these early scenes and monotone monologues have been done before, it doesn’t feel old. There is redemption to be had for Mr. Gibson and these early scenes do a good job of introducing his character.
 

Actually, let me back up a bit, because the story is really not that important here. We are actually met with shock and awe in the opening scene with men jumping impossible distances, clever traps set, and the always-cool “follow the path of the bullet” effect. That is what Wanted is in a nutshell: over-the-top special effects, a convoluted and predictable plot that seeks its inner Empire, and a little eye candy to make sure you don’t fall asleep.

As we begin to unlock Gibson’s past, he stumbles into an assassination guild member named Fox (Angelina Jolie), and immediately gains a semi-membership. And just like the Matrix sequels, Ms. Jolie puts on a wooden performance that involves her pretending McAvoy is a mirror. From there the knots within the plot get worse and worse. If there is one thing this movie does not do well, it is to tell a coherent story.

There are some things this movie does do very well though. Morgan Freeman plays Sloan, the de-facto leader of the ragtag group of anonymous assassins (known collectively as “The Fraternity”) and he steals the movie. You have to wait for it, but trust me: it’s worth it. The theater I watched it with had their loudest response at this moment and it will definitely leave something to remember this otherwise nondescript generic movie by.

Another thing this movie does well is the ending. Movies usually follow formulas in their plot, very rarely dot hey stray from them. However, this one not only strays from the traditional ending, it destroys it. Just when the film lulls you in a false sense of security, it pulls the rug out. The ending is quite possibly one of the best I have seen for a straight action film. It not only wrapped up the plot but it went the extra mile and pushed the film’s very general and basic ideas to another dimension. It was like a punch in the face. It hit me particularly hard since I was not ready for it, yet, at that period of time, I needed it.

In the end, I would give this movie a soft recommendation. It has serious flaws butt here are enough good aspects about it to warrant a first time viewing.

3 / 5 stars

 

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