"Wanted": a plot

June 28, 2008, midnight | By Jenna Bushnell | 13 years, 5 months ago

Shallow action movie offers summer thrills

With a plot thinner than supporting actress Angelina Jolie's arms, "Wanted" comes up short in everything but explosive violence. Only certain adrenaline seekers will enjoy the graphic violence and action in this fast-paced assassin movie, with an opening scene that includes a close up of a bullet ripping through a man's forehead.

Protagonist Wesley Gibson (James McAvoy) narrates his life as it shifts from monotony to full-throttle bedlam. At the beginning of the film, he describes his dissatisfaction with his routine life which includes working in a cubicle under his vindictive boss, a whiny girlfriend who is cheating on him with his best friend and a virtually empty bank account. He suffers from what he believes are anxiety attacks and constantly takes medicine to control the convulsions.

While at a pharmacy purchasing more pills, Wesley encounters a stranger named Fox (Jolie) who tells him that his father, who Wesley presumed to already be dead, was actually recently murdered by an hit-man, Cross (Thomas Kretschmann), who also plans to kill him. After joining Fox on a high speed car chase, Wesley meets Sloan (Morgan Freeman) the leader of the Fraternity, a league of assassins dedicated to killing people they consider harmful to society. Sloan explains that what Gibson presumed to be anxiety is actually an amplified sense, which would make him a good assassin, like his Fraternity-member father.

"Wanted" is a quintessential summer action film - filled with excessive explosions, slow motion gun wielding and over the top special effects. And, like those recently released action films (think Mission Impossible III or Hitman), it is strung together by a weak script that unsuccessfully attempts profound dialogue. What never becomes fully clear is the significance of the Fraternity. Their mission is to "Kill one and save 1000," but it never becomes obvious whether they really make a difference in the world. The violence doesn't really seem to have any meaning behind it.

James McAvoy is miscast in his role, appearing too corrupt to be a cubicle-dweller, and too awkward to be a gun-toting assassin. The script calls for McAvoy to be extremely profane, and it was not believable. The story did not do McAvoy's talent justice, and he should stick to roles like his turn in last year's romantic drama "Atonement".

Meanwhile, it is astounding how Morgan Freeman manages to be vibrant and credible in any role, including Sloan, given the mediocre dialogue. Though it might be hard for fans to imagine the sweet do-gooder as the stoic leader of a group of assassins, Freeman delivers lines with characteristic eloquence, even coming through with excellent comic timing.

If weakened by plot and dialogue, what this movie does bring home is the violence. One of the most notable scenes is at the beginning when one of the assassins sprints down the hallway of an office building, jumps through solid glass, flies through the air with two guns in hand and kills his opponents who are shooting at him from the adjacent building.

For what it's worth, "Wanted" is a decent action flick with some good stunts and cool moves. If taken at face value, viewers with strong stomachs will enjoy this quick-moving film, despite the holes in the plot.

"Wanted" (110 minutes) is rated R for strong bloody violence throughout, pervasive language and some sexuality. Now playing everywhere.

Jenna Bushnell. Jenna Bushnell likes sunshine and funfetti cupcakes. In her free time she enjoys excavating ancient Mayan temples, choreographing classic Broadway revivals, and smiling at strangers. For the right price, she will recite all of the words to "Rock Yo Hips" by Crime Mob. More »

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