Tuesday, October 28, 2014

"WANTED" (2008) Review

"WANTED" (2008) Review

Based upon the comic miniseries by Mark Millar, ”WANTED” is the story of Wesley Gibson, a meek Chicago accountant who discovers that the father he had never known was part of a thousand year-old secret society of assassins called The Fraternity. Upon being informed that his father had been murdered, and longing for a different life outside a hated job and unfaithful girlfriend, Gibson joins The Fraternity in order to find his father’s killer. 

From what I had learned about the two versions of "WANTED", the movie version turned out to be quite different from the comic book version. In the former, The Fraternity consisted of assassins whose victims end up being selected by”Fate” to be hunted and killed. Due to The Fraternity’s founders being a group of weavers, "Fate" chose the order’s victims through a series of codes embedded in the material woven by The Fraternity members. This business of The Fraternity’s victims being chosen by "Fate" never played a part in Millar’s comic story. This is because the assassins turned out to be out-and-out villains. Including Wesley.

There were positive and negative aspects of "WANTED". I was impressed by the performances of both James McAvoy as Wesley Gibson and Morgan Freeman as Sloan, The Fraternity’s leader. Angelina Jolie, as usual, displayed her strong screen presence as Fox, one of the order’s assassins. Unfortunately her character seemed to possess little depth, despite the small flashback about her childhood, provided by screenwriters Michael Brandt, Derek Haas and Chris Morgan. Her character seemed more like an action icon, instead of a character with any real depth. Others such as Terence Stamp, Common, Marc Warren and Konstantin Khabensky provided solid support as a rogue agent and members of The Fraternity. But I found nothing memorable about their performances. Two performances really impressed me. Despite his brief appearances as another rogue agent of The Fraternity, Thomas Kretschmann certainly made an impression as a memorable adversary, who seemed determined to get his hands upon Wesley. And I was also impressed by Lorna Scott's portrayal of Wesley's overbearing boss, Janice. Although her portrayal seemed a bit over-the-top, somehow it seemed to fit her role like a glove.

As for the movie’s action, it strongly reminded me of "THE MATRIX", with its outrageous stunts occasionally shown in slow motion. But "THE MATRIX" is now at least nine years old. And quite frankly, I am beginning to find this form of action a bit outdated. The screenwriters tried to surprise the audience with plot twists, especially the one regarding the character of Cross. But to be honest, I managed to spot these plot twists before they were even revealed. And I ended up being spoiled and not taken by surprise. The story for "WANTED" struck me as pretty solid, but with a strong streak of a melodrama. However, a part of me wished that the screenwriters, director Timur Bekmambetov and the producers should have ditched the idea of The Fraternity’s method of choosing potential victims (and so-called "bad guys") via a textile loom. I found it rather ludicrous. 

In the end, "WANTED" proved to be a solid adaptation of Millar's comic story. I found it solid, but not particularly memorable. As far as I am concerned, I wish the production team involved with the movie had stuck with the more dangerous choice of adhering more closely to Millar’s comic book version. I suspect that this would have made a more interesting film.

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