There's over-the-top, and then there's Wanted, which hits the stratosphere in nanoseconds. Here's a world where bullets don't just fly, they twist, hook and do the electric slide; a place where the laws of physics get twisted in a way that'd give the Mythbusters fits. But damn if it isn't satisfying. This is an action movie that doesn't just ask you to check your brain at the door, but pistol whips you and spits in your face for even considering such a silly idea. Then it kicks you in the nuts just for good measure.
You want crazy?
Imagine a bleeding-edge, satiric shoot-'em-up based on a hyper-violent comic-book series, starring one of the world's most glamorous stars, and adapted by a Russian director (Timur Bekmambetov) known for his mega-grossing, apocalyptic vampire saga (Day Watch), who's never made a film in English before. If you can wrap your head around that, then Wanted will scratch a movie itch in places you weren't even aware of; everyone else is advised to buy a ticket for the cartoon about the cute little robot.
Rising star James McAvoy is Wesley Gibson, a pathetic cubicle drone who, for lack of a real self image, ends up playing human doormat to his boss, his cheating girlfriend, his lecherous pal and just about anyone else who crosses his path. He's such a zero his name doesn't even merit a Google hit; and even the ATM thinks he's an asshole. All that changes when Fox (Angelina Jolie) marches up to him at the pharmacy counter where he gets his anti-stress drugs, announces he's the son of the world's greatest assassin, and invites him to join a secret elite "Fraternity" of trained killers led by the shadowy Sloan (Morgan Freeman). A few chase scenes later, he's learning how to shoot the wings off flies, "curve" bullets to hit targets around corners, getting the crap beaten out of him by a host of trainers, and ogling Jolie's perfect naked rump in the showers. From here the storyline makes a radical departure from the comic — which was more a twisted take on capes and spandex — but replaces it with stuff equally as unbelievable, though just as amusing and witty.
The love-it-or-leave-it meter is so far off the chart on this puppy that it'll likely start nearly as many fights in the parking lot as there are on the screen. Those who'd complain that it cribs too heavily from The Matrix should apologize to John Woo, since it also steals from him and dozens of other inventive filmmakers. Bekmambetov has some growing to do — he makes films that are as nonsensical as they are visually exciting. But with a cast this good and action this insane, who the hell cares? Wanted is fun for the hell of it, pure movie kicks, like freebasing popcorn butter.
Corey Hall writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected].