Movie Review for Wanted (2008)

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Review #655 of 365
Movie Review of Wanted (2008) [R] 110 minutes
WIP™ Scale: $14.00
Where Viewed: United Artists Denver Pavilions Stadium 15, Denver, CO
When Seen: 29 June 2008
Time: 12:01 am
DVD Release Date: 25 November 2008 (click date to purchase or pre-order)
After the Credits: Nada
Film's Official WebsiteFilm's Trailer

Soundtrack: Download now from Danny Elfman - Wanted (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) - or - order the CD below

Directed by: Timur Bekmambetov (Night Watch (Nochnoi Dozor))
Screenplay by: Michael Brandt (3:10 to Yuma) • Derek Haas (3:10 to Yuma) • Chris Morgan (The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift) based on the comic book series by Mark Millar and J.G. Jones

Featured Cast (Where You Might Remember Him/Her From):
James McAvoy (Atonement) • Morgan Freeman (The Bucket List) • Angelina Jolie (Kung Fu Panda) • Terence Stamp (Get Smart) • Thomas Kretschmann (Next) • Common (Street Kings) • Kristen Hager (AvP: Requiem) • Marc Warren (The Lives of the Saints ) • David O'Hara (Doomsday) • Konstantin Khabensky (Night Watch (Nochnoi Dozor)) • Dato Bakhtadze (Crash) • Chris Pratt (Strangers with Candy) • Lorna Scott (The Heartbreak Kid)

Click for 'Review Lite' [a 150-word or less review of this film]
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Click to read the spoiler points for Wanted
Many people have been unfamiliar with the Wanted comic book series by Mark Millar and J.G. Jones and the Russian director of Night Watch (Nochnoi Dozor) but no more. In the first summer 2008 blockbuster that exceeds expectations, Wanted, starring the multiple talents of Morgan Freeman, Angelina Jolie, Terrence Stamp, and more impressively James McAvoy who's absolutely new to this genre, literally blows everything else away.

…first summer 2008 blockbuster that exceeds expectations
Tracing its roots back to The Matrix when it comes to special effects and stunts that become the movie rather than merely enhance the movie, Wanted is 2008's Die Hard 4, Bourne Ultimatum, Hitman, and The DaVinci Code all rolled into one powerful, fun, supercharged video game-esque, Fight Club for the 2000s that will simply blow you away.

James McAvoy, the stately, dashing dreamboat from Atonement gets turned in the super sexy action assassin when his Wesley Gibson, a boring account manager whose cubicle-based job is made a medieval torture by war lord, donutaholic, desperate spinster boss, Janice (Lorna Scott); and whose girlfriend Cathy (Kristen Hager) is being ravished daily right under his noes by best friend Barry (Chris Pratt); and whose anxiety attacks brought on by the mundane routine that is life threaten to kill him by age 52; meets up with Fox (Angelina Jolie) a member of an elite team of assassins led by Sloan (Morgan Freeman) who vows to train him to take out the murderer of Mr. X (David O'Hara), his super assassin, never-knew-he-had-one-until-yesterday father.

…Die Hard 4, Bourne Ultimatum, Hitman, and The DaVinci Code all rolled into one powerful, fun, supercharged video game-esque, Fight Club for the 2000s that will simply blow you away.
Opening with out of this world special effect sequences with all due tribute to The Matrix trilogy, and hilarious insight scenes into the dreadful life of Wesley Gibson (which were akin to those of the Fight Club narrator with whom he has a lot in common), the film quickly establishes itself as being a very different and amazingly entertaining, grown-up film. The story, spoiled no further here (you'll have to read the spoiler for more), then accelerates the pace as Wesley learns to control his own heart rate leading to an exciting thrill ride of assassination missions and one killer twist…don't blow it…of fate (something else for which you'll have to read the spoiler).

While the mythology stands somewhat derivative it goes further by tapping into the tensions looming in our own doom and gloom culture. Imminently quotable, the sharp ending was reminiscent of the self-reflection that was required by Fight Club. Mr. Bekmambetov steps quickly into the limelight of Hollywood with this achievement in all areas from special effect, stunts, cinematography, action sequences (some revealed in the trailer are breath-taking), and shepherding this crew producing the most enjoyable and exciting action thriller, with a healthy dose of comedy, since the days of the first Lethal Weapon series.

… the sharp ending was reminiscent of the self-reflection that was required by Fight Club.
James McAvoy, who showed he could take a lethal beating and survive in The Last King of Scotland, proves himself a compelling leading man action hero here as well. Though, perhaps, a bit less cerebral than his previous characters, his take on Wesley turns out nonetheless brilliant. Angelina Jolie proves she need not be the center of all attention, and makes a great #2 in the film despite her many leading roles. If you're a fan of hers, you're going to love her in this film. She's never looked better—ever! Morgan Freeman stuns again with another role in his new renaissance of self-righteous prophets wielding their own brand of egotistical justice as Sloan, the leader of the secret clan of assassins. Common, Marc Warren, and Konstantin Khabensky prove worthy educators in their roles as assassin mentors and coaches for the young Gibson. And then there's Thomas Kretschmann who plays the rogue assassin, Cross, after whom Wesely chases halfway round the world, who provides a brilliant and breathtaking performance shaded with nuance upon which nearly every twist and turn depends.

This is a big movie. It has the potential to break some ground. It's not for everyone. It is definitely a grown up film. It's rated R for a good reason. While violent, the film does not glorify it, rather it brings out the harsh reality of it. With a deeper calling, the story forces contemplation of our lives and our purpose. This is a thinking person's film too in other words. Just about the only thing not up to snuff with the film, and this goes back to the Comic Book, is the title. It's too bland, and hardly captures the complexity of the film.

Better Titles?
• Assassins
• Fraternity of Assassins
• Curve the Bullet
• By the Bullet
• Morality of the Bullet
• When Life Throws You a Curve Bullet
• Bullet Points
--suggest you own in the comment section below

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Cast Members
James McAvoyMorgan FreemanAngelina Jolie
Terence StampThomas Kretschmann#VALUE!#VALUE!
Kristen HagerMarc WarrenDavid O'Hara
Konstantin KhabenskyChris Pratt
Timur Bekmambetov
Michael BrandtDerek HaasChris Morgan
CD Soundtrack
Original Comic

Review-lite Wanted (2008) [max of 150 words]
Russian director Timur Bekmambetov ignites the Hollywood screen with this adaptation of the Wanted comic book series into an action-charged, Fight Club for the 2000s. The brilliant cast including James McAvoy, Angelina Jolie, and Morgan Freeman dazzle from open to twist of fate closing moments. It's Hitman, Die Hard 4, DaVinci Code, and the Bourne series all rolled into one, but with more comedy and more Matrix. If you don't love it, you don't have a pulse and must think life in a cubicle is grand.

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