Wanted is so in love with its guns, that in the most pivotal scene in the film - and the last scene that reflects it in a key manner - the bullet is intricately carved with spiral designs, like a forgotten Eastern relic with a missile hangover. Even Angelina Jolie shoots a bullet with the most elaborate piece of hot metal at her disposal, and the bullet says "Goodbye".
Wanted kicks ass and takes names, doing so with the most ludicrously shot action scenes in Hollywood, with a sense of the other-worldly like no other. It's definitely not a film with hidden depths of character or narrative nuances. Nevertheless, it's not a film where you are required to leave your brain at home. No, it's not intelligent, but it requires you to be engaged thoroughly to appreciate the levels of inconceivable action it can reach.
Thanks mostly to Russian director Timur Bekmambetov, whose Night Watch was an exercise in fantastical storytelling with excesses that top even Wanted, and whose lazily made Day Watch topped even that in some sequences. Wanted is very much the child of the same brood. The exchange between Timur's madness and the studio's structure is mutual, though - so the film is not incoherent, yet at all times the most badass action committed to screen this summer.
Calling it a superhero origin story wouldn't exactly be incorrect - also considering the fact that the graphic novel it is based on has a super-villain twist to it, though the film eschews all that to be its own animal. Wesley Gibson (McAvoy) is a bored listless husk of a man stuck in a dead-end job and a girlfriend that sleeps with his best friend. Enter Fox (Jolie), who tells him she knew his father, who happened to be the greatest assassin alive, until he was alive no more that morning. The film's kickstart action sequence then has Wesley screaming and kicking while Fox tries to manage him and fend off a gun-toting Cross (Kretschmann).
If you're not a fan of ludicrous and over-the-top action - and I mean cars doing double flips to land back proper - you should leave the theatre immediately because the film just ups the ante every time guns come out. Turns out Wesley's father, as also Fox, used to work for Sloan (Freeman), who in turns runs an organization of assassins taking orders from a shadowy organization called Loom Of Fate. The Loom sends out encrypted names of people to be killed, and they do it - no questions asked, ostensibly saving thousands of people in the process.
In a smartly-cut and well-written montage, Wesley learns of his abilities, which include slowing down his perception of time to do insane moves and bend bullets. Again - fair warning. If bendy bullets get too much for you, don't go. It all doesn't make any sense, but gosh darn it if it ain't great fun. Most of the gleeful fun is to be had in just sitting back and watching, and Timur tries to top himself with every action sequence, something which McAvoy is totally down with, giving himself up to the madness of the moment every time.
McAvoy is great casting, too, since he has that common nobody appearance in the beginning of the film, which he uses to deliver the great segue into the all around cool guy in the second act. The huge Jolie posters and her positioning in the trailers is something meant to just sell the film, though. The opening action set piece has her kicking butt, and then she is relegated into the shadows, content with just being part of the scenery; which is great because the scenery has Common and Khabensky and some really cool attitude.
By the time the third act begins, the film runs out of steam, and just coasts along on good will for a while. It's a lazy piece of editing work, and you start to feel a bit restless even as entire trains are hanging on against cliffs. It picks up at the end, though, and there is a great adrenaline spurt in the final action set piece, giving us the final chapter in the transformation of Wesley Gibson. McAvoy is all supreme confidence and cool machismo right there, and you simply marvel at the audacity of it all.
It's a great fantasy movie, a wish fulfillment for anyone who ever thought he was better than what he was stuck with. The director pushes things a few notches up, making the film great escapism, but never preachy. The movie is an extremely over-the-top, adrenaline-filled, hyper-violent ride at breakneck speed. Even so, this is not a Michael Bay film with incoherence stamped all over. This is filtered through one of the purest action directors in recent times.
Avoid it like the plague if you think American cinema has become all about flashbangs and explosions, because this is exactly that film. On the other hand, it stands out from all the other chaff, simply because it is made by an intelligent filmmaker who knows what he is doing. This is not a merchandise exercise, but an attempt to make great escapism with gleeful abandon.