Wanted ** (out of ****)

Director: Timur Bekmambetov
Writers: Michael Brandt, Derek Haas and Chris Morgan, based on the comic books by Mark Millar and J.G. Jones
Starring: James McAvoy, Angelina Jolie, Morgan Freeman, Terence Stamp
Rating: R (strong bloody violence throughout, pervasive language and some sexuality)
Running Time: 110 min
Release Date: 6/27/08

The writing credits say a lot, i.e. “based on the comic books.” This film strives for the action level of The Matrix without the grand over aching vision. It starts much the same with Wesley Gibson (James McAvoy) stuck in a rather pathetic life situation. Neo was cool in his in the Matrix even before taking the red pill by comparison. Wesley has a low-lever office job with a tyrannical overweigh female supervisor. His girlfriend (well at least his has one!) is having an affair with his buddy. And, his is raked with panic attacks for which is on medication.

It is that later that leads him to a major change in his life. One night while he is getting his prescription filled at the local drug store he is meets Fox (Angelina Jolie), who is almost immediately engaged in a shootout with a gunman. Fox tells him that the unknown shooter is after him. After running for his life, he soon finds himself in a car driven by her in a fantastic high speed chase and running gun battle with the unknown pursuer.

This chase leads Wesley to a meeting with Sloane (Morgan Freeman), who we are informed is the chief of group of assassins formed by an ancient textile guild dating back a thousand years. They get their coded kill orders from the “loom of fate” located in the mill. The idea is that as Fox later explains, “Kill one and save a thousand.” One can have some doubts about that philosophy. Gavrilo Princip tried that in 1914 and launched a sequence of events culminating in two world wars with a total of 60 millions dead between them. But then he didn’t get his orders from a loom!

Sloane tells Wesley that his father was a great assassin that he is to take his place in the group (and inherit his father $3 million bank account). In order to prove to Wesley that this is his calling Sloane orders him to shoot the wings off of some flies in the trash can. No joke, he is eventually persuaded to fire in to the can with his father pistol and damn if do see some wingless flies squirming. Soon he is in the guild being trained mainly by various brutal beatings. This not as bad as it might seem because they have this magic bath that lets you heal rapidly from otherwise incapacitating injuries. And, for their final wow trick they have the psychokinetic power to curve bullet in flight.

Eventually, Wesley and Fox are on their missions to kill the great villains as ordered by the loom. After some initial reluctance Wesley gets into it by knocking off an guy in a corporate office and a rich guy in a limo smoking a cigar. It is notable that his heroic group dating back a thousand years failed to target Hitler, Mao, or Stalin. Not to mention even Gavrilo Princip. But, one assignment will result in a major plot twist that will turn our initial plot perceptions on their head. Wesley and Fox will make a fateful choice about the course of this guilds own destiny!

Wanted is an over the top violence flick. It has little logical basis but perhaps is some emotional release for those who feel victimized by their fate. It does have some fantastic action scenes and that may be all that is required for some viewers. Have fun or avoid it’s your choice.

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