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Directed by Timur Bekmambetov.
Written by Michael Brandt, Derek Haas and Chris Morgan.  Based on the comics by Mark Millar and J.G. Jones.
Starring James McAvoy, Angelina Jolie, Morgan Freeman and Common.
Release Year:  2008
Review Date:  6/19/08


I was leaving the theater last night, having just watched a free preview of "Wanted", and three people in front of me literally had exactly this exchange:

Person A:  What did you think?  I thought it was terrible!
Person B:  Really?  I loved it!
Person C:  Yeah, I did too!  How could you not like it?

Just hearing the chatter in the lobby, I can already tell that "Wanted" will be the 2008 version of "Moulin Rouge", a classic example of a film that was nearly universal in its love-it-or-hate-it appeal.  For me...well, I didn't love it.

"Wanted" goes almost out of its way to be a "Matrix"-like rip-off; we get the untrained killer-in-the-making (played reasonably well by James McAvoy, from "The Last King of Scotland"), his bad-ass female companion (Angelina Jolie), a rogue group of team members with names like The Repairman and The Gunsmith (otherwise known as "Casualties in the Making"), even an older black scion/mentor/former bad-ass killer (played here by Morgan Freeman).  The similarities continue--mind-bending/illogical physics, characters who can occasionally fly or show strength beyond our understanding, interminably long training sequences.

When all is said and done, we're left with an action film that goes beyond our definition of over the top; in fact, "Wanted" is essentially an action-comedy, not in the "Rush Hour" way but a violent action film that falls in love with making too many jokes, no matter what the situation is.  I think it was this balance that made me not like the film; sometimes the McAvoy character is cracking jokes as he shoots people.  Not working for me.  Also not working for me--basing your whole action philosophy on a character's ability to "bend" shots around stationary targets.  Really not working for me: character's ability to see bullets fired at them, fire back at said bullets solely to shoot them out of the air.

I'm cool with ridiculous, but having someone shoot moving bullets out of the air three times in a row?  Yawn.

At the same time, some people are going to absolutely fucking love "Wanted."  Seriously!  The special effects are interesting.  McAvoy is a good-looking, charming lead, and pairing him with Jolie--while not movie magic--is a solid idea.  Even though the majority of the movie's good scenes are in the trailer, there are a couple of nice sight gags in the movie's end action sequence.  Some people will love watching people constantly shoot pistols while whipping their arms in a sidewinder motion.  And, maybe some of the film's comic book fans will be happy with the end result.

But, for me, "Wanted" only made me regret having ever seen the better, cooler "Matrix" original; maybe if I hadn't seen that, "Wanted" would be better.

Rating:  Rental


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09