Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Wanted


Our hero blows a hole through the head of a colleague and then shoots other colleagues through the hole while using the man as a human shield – what’s not to love about this ode to stylised action and graphic violence, which is destined to become one of the big hits of the summer. Like 300, which was also such an ode, Wanted is based on a series of graphic novels, which makes the over-the-top action and ultraviolence somewhat forgivable. But, if anything, Wanted is actually colder and darker than 300, as the first line of my review suggests. Nevertheless, I thought it was a better film than 300.

Directed by Timur Bekmambetov (from Russia), Wanted tells the story of a rather wimpy young man whose life is tedious and meaningless until the day he learns that his unknown father has been murdered and he is to be trained to join a secret society of assassins in order to kill the murderer. Like most action flicks, the plot is quite simplistic, though it tries to be clever in its various twists and turns. Cleverness does not, however, equal intelligence, and I found myself constantly wondering whether Wanted was an intelligent film or not. If only I could figure out the meaning behind the rather bizarre ending. Since only a few people have seen the film, I can’t go online to find a discussion of this. I keep thinking there must be a thoughtful point hidden in there somewhere, but every attempt my grey cells make to decipher it comes to a dead end.

In the meantime, Wanted has other things going for it. James McAvoy is excellent as our hero, Wesley, and Angelina Jolie is quite tolerable as his teacher, Fox. The action sequences, which bored me in Indiana Jones, were actually quite diverting - it’s a bit of a “Wow” movie (and I like to be wowed). Still, the only thing that made this film more than a guilty pleasure (for me) was viewing it as an allegory instead of a tale of violence. Shouldn’t people living mindless meaningless lives in cubicles be encouraged to take control of those lives and do something meaningful with them (like fighting to make the world a better place)? Making the change may require a kind of death and rebirth and may involve a lot of pain, as well as a paradigm shift about what’s really going on in the world, but in the end it’s worth it. Or is it? Does Wesley make the world a better place? On the surface, I saw little to support that claim. But if I could figure out that weird ending, then maybe it would lift Wanted from a meaningless violent diversion to a thoughtful bloody thriller. Or not.

*** for effort. My mug is barely holding the coffee inside.