Stage and Cinema film and theatre reviews
 

 

WANTED: BETTER FILMMAKING

 

picture - WantedFilm Review

by Kevin Bowen

published June 27, 2008

 

Wanted

rated R

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 on television.

 

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

 

 
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