Loosely based upon a series of comic books released by Top Cow, Wanted is an extremely bloody action film driven by pure adrenalin, stunning visual effects and solid performances.
James McAvoy stars as Wesley, an office drone who considers himself and his life to be insignificant. During a routine day in his dour existence, Wesley is abducted by a group of assassins known as the Fraternity. Their leader Sloan (Morgan Freeman) informs Wesley that his late father –who abandoned him at a very young age - was a renowned assassin and that he too contains the same supernatural genetic traits to become a killing machine.
Under the tutelage of Fox (Angelina Jolie), Wesley undergoes rigorous and bloody training to sharp tune his natural killing ability and is ordered take on a rogue assassin named Cross (Thomas Kretschmann) who is killing members of the Fraternity.
In the process Russian director Timur Bekmambetov (of the popular Nightwatch and Daywatch vampire films) has created a visually spectacular film that is filled with some wonderfully over the top action sequences (a car chase within the films first 10 min is a highlight), stellar effects as CGI blends very well with live action SFX, and numerous slow motion shots of bullets whizzing through various obstacles and entering their desired victims (head shots being the most popular).
Due its style of visual effects and main story of an ordinary main fulfilling his destiny through violent means, comparisons to The Matrix are understandable. Indeed, it the latter had not existed, Wanted would not have a benchmark to rise up to, regardless of tis source material. There is also a dose of the Christian Bale film Equilibrium felt due to its style of ballet-esque gun play, and its innovative shoot outs and degrading kills rival those from last years Shoot ‘Em Up.
For an effects heavy film the performances are very good. James McAvoy – easily on of the most exciting actors working today – brings humour and humanity to his role, while Angelina Jolie and Morgan Freeman bring to the film what is expected of them: the former sex and sass, the latter leadership and wisdom (but thankfully no narration!)
There is a solid story to anchor the films style and gratuitous violence, and its moral themes surrounding mankind’s relationship with fate and destiny does warrant reflection, even though certain plot points – such as the concept of fate spoken through weaves of tapestry – can be confusing.
Yet the biggest hurdle with this film was its use of violence which felt too heavy handed and only emphasises the poor standard of the censorship of violence in cinema, which has become a too vague to pin down.
Indeed, how can Wanted receive glowing review in spite of its violence, and a film such as Hostel: Part II mauled due to its violence? It is a question which requires reflection, and an answer is not any clearer.
In the end, what is assured is the fact that the violence in this film pales in comparison to the likes of Hostel and other torture porn flicks. But really it just comes down to how the film as a whole should be viewed, and Wanted has the filmmaking, acting, effects, and entertainment credentials to warrant a glowing review.