If you are averse to brutal violence, gun play, and cruelty to animals, Wanted isn’t your bag. For everyone else, strap yourselves in for a ride.
Bekmambetov taps into something universal here — our innate unhappiness as human beings. When has anyone not felt shat upon or treated like cattle to the slaughter, wasting our lives on unimportant bullshit because that’s what we’re supposed to do? Whether it be our families, partners, children, co-workers, or friends, our lives rarely seem under our own control; playing out each day very much like the last, like hamsters on a treadwheel. Wanted is a call to revolution, to break the bonds of our mundane, unfulfilled existence and do something important with our time, whatever that may be.
James McAvoy does an exceptional job with a character that could very easily be ruined in the hands of a less gifted actor. He’s not perfect, and those moments stand out like sore thumbs, but the overall journey Wesley takes is what we’re hooked into. Morgan Freeman is as cool as ever, with some great one liners that are sure to wind up on t-shirts. And I’ve realized what it is about Angelina Jolie that’s so mesmerizing. She’s not drop dead gorgeous, but she’s so connected with who she is and what she’s capable of, that the character she’s portraying leaps right off the screen. It’s goddamn sexy and you can’t help but be drawn in. Even Terence Stamp, another actor who knows himself to his core, steps in for a brief yet effective role.
But the film is not without its flaws. Wanted does demand a healthy suspension of disbelief and an ability to forgive several story transitions that just don’t play. One of the most egregious is Wesley’s transition from doubt-filled trainee to prime time player.
Raising the bar on the summer movie scene, Timur Bekmambetov and his team have delivered a guaranteed crowd pleaser. There’s part of me that sincerely hopes Universal will allow this picture to stand on its own and not attempt to milk a franchise out of it.