Universal // 2008 // 100 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Franck Tabouring (Retired) // December 2nd, 2008
Choose your destiny.
Timur Bekmambetov's Wanted is ridiculous, totally implausible, and utterly brutal, but it is also wildly entertaining, quite intriguing, and perfectly fast-paced. If you're watching this action spectacle for the first time, sit back, relax, and try your best not to take it seriously.
Based on the series of graphic novels by Mark Millar and J.G. Jones, the film focuses on Wesley Gibson (James McAvoy, Atonement), a pathetic nobody who pretty much leads a sad, lonely existence. That's at least until he runs into an attractive stranger named Fox (Angelina Jolie, Changeling), who offers him the unique opportunity to join the Fraternity, an alliance of expert assassins whose aim is to maintain a certain balance in the world.
From there, Wesley's life takes a drastic turn as he dives into an exhausting training program that helps him acquire a set of valuable skills, including the ability to curve bullets. As soon as he completely masters all the techniques required to pull off the perfect kill, Wes embarks on a perilous mission to track down and eliminate the man responsible for his father's brutal murder.
An insane but thoroughly entertaining action spectacle, Bekmambetov's Hollywood debut boats plenty of incredible action sequences, including thrilling shootouts, wild pursuits, and awesome stunts. The first time I saw Wanted in theaters I left the screening room totally ecstatic about what I've seen. After checking it out for a second time on DVD, I'm happy to announce the excitement persists.
Sure, Wanted is incredibly unrealistic and over the top, but if you're a diehard fan of the genre, I doubt you'll have any trouble enjoying it to the fullest extent. If you're willing to suspend your disbelief for 110 minutes, you'll have an awesome time. If that's something you don't want to do, however, my only suggestion is to stay as far away from this DVD as possible. I mean, don't even look at the cover.
Anyway, in terms of innovative action, Wanted really is unlike anything we've seen this year. Bekmambetov is someone who always likes to explore new ways to generate implausible action sequences, and he's certainly an expert at it. If you've seen his captivating Russian flicks Night Watch and Day Watch, I'm sure you know what I mean. In this movie, he continues his own tradition by successfully making every new segment a whole lot more spectacular than the last. The crazy stuff we see unfold on the screen keeps getting better as the film progresses, and whether it's a high-speed pursuit during which a Viper flips over a bunch of police cars or a loud, bloody showdown with exploding rats at the Fraternity's HQ, there's plenty of eye candy for everybody to enjoy.
Don't go looking for a subtle story anywhere in the movie. Wanted is 100 percent brainless entertainment and nothing else. The plot is fairly simplistic and the movie's story line is filled with silly twists. Some of these twists work while others crash, but by the time the end credits roll, you probably won't care about any minor flaws anymore anyway.
McAvoy is a very talented young actor, and he already proved his skills in films such as The Last King of Scotland and Atonement. Although his role here isn't the most sophisticated he's played so far, McAvoy turns in a somewhat authentic performance as a lazy guy who learns how to choose his own destiny and completely change his life by running around killing his targets. Helping him out is a sexy Angelina Jolie, who's in great shape and still has everything it takes to play a hot assassin who takes pleasure in kicking butt. Also co-starring are Morgan Freeman, Common, Terence Stamp, and Thomas Kretschmann.
Wanted marks my first Universal Pictures Blu-ray disc review, and I adored the quality of both the picture and sound. Everything looks gorgeous in the 2.35:1 non-anamorphic transfer, and the sharp image turns the countless action scenes into a visual feast. The sound is tremendous as well, and if you have both a solid surround sound system and close neighbors, I suggest you keep your remote very close because when the gunfights break out, the walls around you start to shake. This is exactly the kind of movie you'd pick to demonstrate the awesomeness of high-definition home entertainment.
Luckily, this Blu-ray edition is also packed with a bunch of cool special features. Besides an extended scene, the bonus material also include a two-minute alternate opening, which is quite interesting but eventually not as intriguing as the one they ended up going with. If you want to find out more about the production of Wanted, make sure you watch "Cast and Characters," a 20-minute featurette during which cast and crew members take a moment to talk about their characters in the movie. Interestingly, this informative piece also focuses on how the cast came together and what kind of challenges they encountered during the shoot.
If you're more into behind-the-scenes stuff, "Stunts on the L Train," "Special Effects: The Art of the Impossible," and "Groundbreaking Visual Effects" are for you. These three featurettes offer a variety of cool content, ranging from a quick look at the stunts on top of a train to an introduction on how the filmmakers added some of the thrilling effects to the action sequences. These pieces are particularly engaging because viewers get a good look at some of the crazy but genius set pieces Bekmambetov and Co. used during the making of the flick.
The special features also include a short documentary about the challenge of bringing a comic book to life on the big screen, as well as a captivating 9-minute piece on Bekmambetov's vision, a look at the creation of the video game, and a collection of eight moments from the graphic novel that ended up inspiring scenes in the movie. This Blu-ray disc also features some BD Live features, including a function that lets users chat online during the movie. The so-called "U-Control" interactive feature lets viewers explore some scenes from several angles, and it even lets people select their own movie clips, which can be shared over the Web with the appropriate connection. I personally prefer to watch a movie without doing anything else, but if you're the interactive kind of person, this will certainly add a lot of fun to the watching experience. This edition of Wanted also comes with a digital copy you can download to your computer.
We're definitely not talking great, sophisticated cinema here, but the film delivers a fantastic time by taking those who like this genre on a thrilling ride they won't forget.
Bloody, brutal, and entertaining, but not guilty.
Review content copyright © 2008 Franck Tabouring; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 2.35:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p Widescreen)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* DTS 5.1 Surround (French)
* DTS 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
Running Time: 100 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Extended Scene
* Alternate Opening
* Stunts on the L Train
* Special Effects
* Groundbreaking Visual Effects
* The Origins of Wanted
* Making of the Wanted Video Game
* Wanted Motion Comics
* Through the Eyes of Timur Bekmambetov
* BD Live
* Digital Copy
* Official Site
* Cinema Verdict Review - Wanted