The Red Right Hand
  www.theredrighthand.co.uk





WANTED
Choose Your Destiny

Director
Timur Bekmambetov

Starring
James McAvoy
Morgan Freeman
Angelina Jolie
Konstantin Khabensky

If I have to be honest, and I invariably do, I feel Bekmambetov's work is a bit schlocky but works very well within its own genre; Wanted is no exception. The basic concept of the film focuses on a specific breed of humans able to manipulate and control their adrenal glands, allowing them to move and react faster than most. The other key principle is that bullets do not fly in straight lines, the only reason people believe this is because that is what they are told. Simple enough, right? Deadbeat, apathetic nobody, Wesley Gibson [McAvoy] leads the average life of a dull accountant, daily walked over by all around him; he suffers from severe stress-induced anxiety attacks, his girlfriend cheats on him with his best friend, his boss hounds him over meaningless data entry, even cash points seem to insult him with their refusal to relinquish funds. That is, until Fox [Jolie] confronts him in a convenience store, explaining that he is the son of one of the greatest assassins, with abilities and powers beyond his comprehension.

Chances are you didn't know Wanted was based on a comic. You may think, "My God, what an original concept" but the fact that this is such a loose adaptation (similar to I, Robot) is one of the reasons I have knocked this film down. Granted, what was stated in the above paragraph could technically be considered the workings of an adaptation but everything that follows derives solely from the minds of the writers (credited for 3:10 To Yuma) and director (best known for directing the Night Watch series). So the world of the comic left aside, what further plot twists are laid out for us? Well, the plot is more a weak (and somewhat obvious) frame that simply holds together a vast tapestry of rather impressive action sequences yet despite the extravagant amount of gun-toting and car-wrecking, this film is not as 'American' as audiences will presume, it's primarily Russian; betrayals, loyalties, sons and fathers, monotonous life stirred up by death, breaking free the shackles of workforce oppression, etc.

The cast is surprisingly impressive, offering a variety of familiar and well known faces alongside more independent international actors. The performances given are notable but at the same time there is a slight air of misogynistic nonsense that floods through; the only female characters are an overweight boss, a whiney, cheating girlfriend and a seductive and wholly unattainable mentor.

As both a positive and negative point, the action is sometimes stupidly over-the-top, to the degree you are so completely blown away, astounded and impressed that you are sitting there gob-smacked but still muttering, "Bullshit!" A combination that, if done well (a la The Matrix), is sure to impress. Another interesting point to make is about the music; sure, it's your typical balls-to-the-wall rock guitar pieces that cater well to the onscreen onslaught but the fact that Danny Elfman is responsible for this largely unrecognisable score is... well... surprising. Not good, not bad, just surprising.

Ultimately, if you're into blood or guns and can tolerate an extreme amount of shaky-cam work, you'll no doubt enjoy this solid assassination flick.

Release Date:
27th June 2008

The Scene To Look Out For:
The absurd train sequence? No, I think not. I think the idea of the textile plant being an exact replica of the original fortress in the Middle East was interesting. But for one particular scene, let's go with Wesley's attack on the fortress, yeah, end of Equilibrium times ten. Either that or the use of Nine Inch Nails' Every Day Is Exactly The Same.

Notable Characters:
Konstantin Khabensky's role was far too small for me. I know that sounds ridiculous but I wanted to see the Russian make a bigger impression on Western audiences. Instead I will go with James McAvoy. A bold choice for the Russian director, I highly doubt, had this film been directed by yanks, the first thing they would have said for casting the lead was, "Hey! I know, let's get that small Scottish guy from Atonement!" The role requires a lot of punishment and thankfully, McAvoy delivers superbly well.

Highlighted Quote:
"This is me taking control; from Sloan, from the fraternity, from Janis, billing reports, ergonomic keyboards, from cheating girlfriends and sack of shit best friends. This is me taking back control of my life. What the fuck have you done lately?"

In A Few Words:
"Ridiculous over-the-top nonsense that impressed the hell out of me - provided you dismiss Millar's comic entirely"

Total Score:
8/10


Matthew Stogdon