Now Showing at: most major theaters.
Review by: Larry Thomas
For fans of action flicks, and admittedly, they’re mostly guys, the standard of excellence for the past couple of decades has been the Die Hard, Terminator and Robocop series. And except for breakaway mavericks like Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez, the studio-made films pretty much stuck to formula.
Now, the action film has graduated into the 21st century with Wanted. Directed by Russian helmer Timur Bekmambetov, who is admired for his vampire opus Night Watch and its sequel Day Watch, Wanted is a slam-bang, faster-than-a-speeding-bullet saga about a self-proclaimed loser who is transformed into an avenging uber-assassin out to right the wrongs of mankind. Based on a…you can call it a “graphic novel” if you wish, but it’s still a comic book… and with the look and pace of a high-tech video game, Wanted offers much more than you might expect from its heritage.
For starters, Bekmambetov doesn’t take himself, or the material, seriously, and is knee-deep in making this fun. Secondly, for the realm of action movies, the cast is stellar. The extraordinary British actor James McAvoy plays hangdog nebbish Wesley Gibson. He first gained worldwide attention as a faun…you know, half man, and half goat in The Chronicles of Narnia: the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Next up, he was playing opposite Oscar-winner Forest Whitaker in The Last King of Scotland. And most recently, he was the male lead in the multi Oscar-nominated Atonement. From this resume, one might assume James McAvoy is rather unlikely for an action hero. Wrong. He’s tough, funny, and believable as an everyman who finds himself in extraordinary circumstances.
Recruited by Fox (Angelina Jolie) to join a band of assassins whose history goes back a thousand years, Wesley also encounters the leader Sloan. This is another fine performance by Morgan Freeman, who is one of those actors, like Gene Hackman and maybe a couple of others, who could be on camera reading the phone book for two hours, and make it interesting.
There are also cameo appearances by the versatile British character actor Terence Stamp, whom you probably best know as General Zod from the Superman series, and German thespian Thomas Kretchmann.
To give away any of the plot points is to take away the joy of discovery as you sit in the dark watching the images speed by, accompanied by yet another masterful score by the accomplished Danny Elfman.
Granted, there is no major social significance to Wanted, and for some it may be considered too violent or gory. But for its intended audience, Wanted hits the mark, pun intended, as an exhilarating thrill ride of a movie that absolutely must be seen on a big screen surrounded by digital stereo sound.