Directed by: Timur Bekmambetov | 110 minutes | action, crime, thriller | Actors: James McAvoy, Angelina Jolie, Morgan Freeman, Terence Stamp, Thomas Kretschmann, Common, Kristen Hager, Marc Waren, David OHara, Konstantin Khabensky, Dato Bakhtadze, Chris Pratt, Lorna Scott
It is not always a success when promising directors outside America try their luck in Hollywood. French filmmakers David Moreau and Xavier Palud, who impressed with the conventional but very effective horror film “Ils” (“Them”), recently attracted few with their remake of “The Eye” by the Thai Pang brothers. These brothers also suddenly seemed to have lost their creative talent with their mediocre American haunted house film “The Messengers”. Things are different with Timur Bekmambetov, the Russian-Kazakhstan director of the vampire films “Nochnoi Dozor” (“Night Watch”) and “Dnevnoy Dozor” (“Day Watch”). His first American production, “Wanted”, has flair, momentum, and persuasiveness. His creativity and unbridled imagination have lost little or no strength during his (figurative) crossing to America. “Wanted” is a delightful comic book adaptation that is quite ruthless at times, but fortunately doesn’t take itself too seriously and simply throws all belts loose for an always captivating action spectacle. The first summer blockbuster of 2008 is a fact.
Newcomer to the action genre James McAvoy is convincing in this role and is someone the viewer can identify with. However, the actor himself wonders whether he is designed for these types of roles. “The fourteen-year-old boy in me was wildly excited about doing Wanted, but to be honest, I don’t see myself doing an action movie again that soon.” And perhaps this is precisely why McAvoy is so suitable for it. As a spectator you believe his development. You can empathize with his capacity as an average citizen who simply does his boring office job from nine to five, with the result that when he ends up headlong into another, intimidating world, the viewer empathizes with him and feels just as uncomfortable and surprised. if he. A bit like Neo in “The Matrix”.
It is also “The Matrix” which “Wanted” is very similar in its story and form elements. Here too, a wimp appears to have special powers and he is snatched from his office by an organization that will recruit and prepare him to realize his true potential. Here too it is a tough babe who approaches him first. Not Carrie-Anne Moss in a black latex suit, but Angelina Jolie in a sexy white dress and with a fancy gun. You can do worse. Even more than in “The Matrix”, the traditional gender roles are reversed here. McAvoy is now the screaming “lady” in need, while Jolie is the kick-ass superhero who must keep him out of the thugs’ clutches. Just how kick-ass she is becomes clear in a car chase scene for which the term “over-the-top” seems to have been coined. (That is, until the next excessive, ridiculously improbable scene presents itself.) Jolies Fox is firing on the hood while McAvoys Wesley tries to keep the car moving, and the climax of the sequence, involving a crashed truck on its side, is both inventive and hilarious. It can be seen that Bekmambetov directs his film with a wink and a lot of fun. In this way, he encourages the viewer to grab his bowl of popcorn and sit back without thinking much. Leave it to the critics to think about things like story building, credibility, and character development.
If you take a closer look at the film, it becomes clear that the story itself does not contain many new ideas. “The Matrix” has already been mentioned as a similar film. In this, a distinction was also made between different kinds of worlds and the way in which you can truly live was emphasized. And also in that film, Neo, like Wesley in “Wanted”, woke up reborn in a milky bath, after first being overwhelmed with new experiences. But “Wanted” also looks a lot like “Fight Club”. In that film, too, the protagonist had to get closer to himself by receiving blows and other direct personal violence. In “Wanted”, McAvoy only really sees the light when he’s first beaten to a bleeding pulp, at the end of a rigorous “workout.” And here too, a voice-over is occasionally used to express McAvoy’s thoughts. In “Wanted” he does not suffer from insomnia but from stress. The resemblance is no longer a coincidence when the voiceover in “Wanted” even mentions an IKEA table in passing, just as Edward Norton did in “Fight Club”. Unfortunately, the voice-over works a lot less here
good, but fortunately it is only used sporadically, and especially in the beginning of the film. Then there is a pinch of “Minority Report” in “Wanted” in the form of the predictive or omnipotent loom that, through a higher power, leaves codes behind in the tissues, from which the names of criminals or future criminals can be deciphered, who must be killed. Similarly, in Minority Report, inscriptions in wooden balls indicated who would commit a crime in the future. And in both movies, this system is considered to be foolproof. And in both cases this thought creates complications.
In other words, if this film had been released ten to fifteen years earlier, the story and all the ideas in it would undoubtedly appear fresh and stimulating and impress, whereas this is less the case with the aforementioned films. Not that this immediately sinks the movie. Not at all. It just makes it all a bit less overwhelming or surprising than it (ever) could have been. But this film falls, and in this case stands, with the actors and the overall effect; which are excellent here. Morgan Freeman takes every film to the next level, no matter how pulpy or superficial the story. He is charismatic as leader Sloan, who has a special plan in store for the chosen Wesley and gives the film the necessary stature. Jolie does her spirited role in “Mr. and Mrs. Smith ‘thin about it, but now with dark eyeshadow and even more advanced weapons and combat techniques. The biggest surprise is of course McAvoy, who has already shown himself to be a good performer with drama – with excellent performances in films like ‘Atonement’ and ‘The Last King of Scotland’ – but who is not an obvious candidate for this. kind of movies. But he succeeds with flying colors. Not only does he convince as an action hero, he also makes his character human and injects a healthy dose of sarcasm into his performance – sometimes in the midst of hard fight scenes – which keeps the whole thing alive. A great achievement. Scarlett Johansson, for example, fared a lot less well when she had to appear as an action babe in “The Island.” “Wanted” also contains fun pop references – “Is” Fox “a code name? Like “Maverick” in Top Gun? ” -, cool action – including a train that derails spectacularly and in a special location -, fun gimmicks – like firing bullets with a curve to shoot around objects in between – and even fun chemistry between McAvoy and Jolie. But this is actually not surprising, because “Wanted” as a whole simply contains a lot of chemistry. A pleasant surprise.