WANTED: BETTER FILMMAKING
published June 27,
now playing nationwide
If each film has its own cinematic
vocabulary, then Wanted would mainly consist of the seven words they wouldn’t let George Carlin say
It ‘s not just that the comic book feature,
directed by Russian Timur Bekmambetov, doesn’t flinch from its aggressive bloodshed – or flinch from, well, anything. Instead, it’s the film’s
mash-up of the unnecessaries. The harsh camera angles. The epileptic editing. The frenzied action beats. The polluting voiceover. The film
language – heck, the film itself – is egregious, profane, and empty.
In the latest nerd-cum-action hero
adventure, James McAvoy leaves Dilbert-land to join a cult of talented assassins, led by Morgan Freeman and Angelina Jolie. His father was
one, and despite the geeky exterior, he has the same skills deep down. Soon, men and woman are flying from skyscraper to skyscraper, pulling
car stunts, and knocking off targets. For those easily impressed by Matrix-like Bullet-Cam, the
film offers plenty.
However, the trailer unloaded most of the
mindless thrills. If you’ve seen someone curve one bullet, you’ve seen them all. What stunned me, though, is how often Wanted resorts to peanut-butter-and-jelly foot chases that lead to little bang. On top of that, the film
often looks terrible. When it’s not a money shot, it’s a grainy one, enough so that you wonder about the adequacy of the budget.
While Wanted piles on the mindless action mileage, it overlooks another part of the comic book mentality.
These assassins derive from a cult of medieval weavers. They work in a sweater factory. They get
the names of their targets by consulting “The Loom of Fate.” Jolie tells the looniest backstory you’ll ever hear. All of this done as if lost
in a Bergman movie. Now, is it just me, or does a film that can’t pull humor from that milieu completely miss the joke? It seems like the
source material has a sense of humor that the film doesn’t share. I mean, “The Loom of Fate?”
The one saving grace is the wack-o ending,
in which all the elements weave deliciously together. The action is striking and well-paced. The use of exploding rats is breakneck bizarre at
its best. It’s a blast to send you out the door. And maybe, just maybe, that’s all you will need to remember.
kevinbowen @ stageandcinema.com