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Case Number 15242

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Wanted: 2-Disc Special Edition

Universal // 2008 // 110 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Brett Cullum // December 15th, 2008

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All Rise...

Judge Brett Cullum curves bullets and flips cars with Angelina Jolie. You don't believe me?

Editor's Note

Our review of Wanted (Blu-Ray), published December 2nd, 2008, is also available.

The Charge

Wesley: Have you ever thought about doing things differently?
Fox: How do you mean?
Wesley: I don't know. Being somebody else? Someone…normal?
Fox [after a long pause]: No.

Opening Statement

Wanted is the proud bastard child of The Matrix, Fight Club, and La Femme Nikita. The silly action is nowhere near the classic status of those influences, but it is a fun roller coaster ride with a rocking soundtrack. In some ways, what more could you ask for? Wanted is an orgy of fantasy blitz that will ask you to suspend all belief and simply enjoy the ride. The film has comic book origins, although the graphic novel by Mark Millar and J.G. Jones is loosely interpreted with major changes to the plot of the source material. Wanted marks the first American production of acclaimed Russian visualist Timur Bekmambetov who made a huge splash with his Night Watch and Day Watch films. You come for the highly inventive visuals married with stellar star power, and leave satisfied as long as you don't expect anything that could happen in the real world. It's a fever dream of bullets, babes, and hot cars.

Facts of the Case

Wesley Gibson (James McAvoy, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe) lives a life of quiet desperation, and attention is not being paid. He feels like he is an insignificant asshole with a nondescript cubicle job, an addiction to anxiety medication, and a nagging girlfriend who is having an affair with his best friend. He never knew his father, and is convinced he left seven days after he was born out of disappointment. Then one day a mysterious woman (Angelina Jolie,Lara Croft: Tomb Raider) shows up at the drugstore counter and tells him his destiny is to become a supernatural assassin working for an ancient order. The lady claims she knew his father, who had bigger plans for him, and Wesley is to be a tool of fate rather than its victim. She takes him to her leader (Morgan Freeman,Lucky Number Slevin) who explains things a bit more eloquently, and soon Wesley finds himself in a world where gravity merely is a concept and physics has no validity. The assassins can bend bullets and flip cars in impossible ways that makes their jobs the fantasy of every junior high school boy who dreams of being something more than just average and boring. They receive orders from a large loom that tells the Fraternity who needs to die to keep the world safe and sound. But is everything too good to be true?

The Evidence

The graphic novel and this film don't share many things other than a passing resemblance to each other. In the comic the Fraternity is an outright evil organization that has gotten rid of all the world's super heroes and made everyone forget they ever existed. They are super villains bent on destroying the world rather than noble assassins hunched over a loom wanting to save thousands by taking out one. The graphic novel's Fox is more a "Halle Berry cast in a blaxpoitation film" character, Wesley more like Eminem with an office job, and most of the rest of the film's cast are not present or radically different. The Morgan Freeman character isn't even in there, and the plot about Wesley and the legacy of his father is a construct of the screenwriters which was mere subplot in the original.

This edition of Wanted puts the main feature on the first disc, and all extras on a second one. This makes it easier to have a "bare bones" single disc product, and then all the collector's editions that include dual DVDs the only ones with additional features.

Extras include:
• Extended Sequence—a longer training sequence that doesn't show much other than Angelina Jolie and Common verbally abusing James McAvoy as he shoots corpses on meathooks.
• Cast and Characters—A featurette where each character is analyzed by the actors and crew.
• Stunts on the L Train—A specific look at how they did the stunt scenes on top of the train cars.
• Special Effects: The Art of the Impossible—A look at the blend of practical methods used to create the film.
• Groundbreaking Visual Effects: From Imagination to Execution—An extended look at the CGI elements that enhance the practical portions.
• The Origins of Wanted: Bringing the Graphic Novel to Life—Discussions with Mark Millar and director Timur Bekmambetov about the source material.
• Through the Eyes of Director Timur Bekmambetov—a featurette concentrating on working on Timur's first American film.
• Wanted: Motion Comics—Yep, people read the comics to you. Basically just a few scenes from the graphic novel that relate to the film.
• "The Little Things" Music Video Mash-Up—Basically the old "movie clips" set to the Danny Elfman song that comes from the soundtrack.
• The Making of the Video Game—A look at how the video game was developed.
• Easter Eggs—At the end of several of the featurettes you get codes that can be used in the video game to help you out.
• Digital Copy—The pocket version of the film for your portable video device

Technically the DVD is a strong transfer with a solid sound presentation as well. The film is dark, and black levels are handled well along with the strange saturation levels of color. The five channels are engaged by the audio track, and there's no problems with any of that. There are two versions of the packaging including the simple slip case cover, or collectors can opt for the more elaborate box set which includes some swag and a bullet blasted cover. Either way the presentation and extras are the same.

The Rebuttal Witnesses

Seems the biggest complaint about Wanted is how unbelievable it is, and that it feels like a Matrix rip-off. It's still a fun time no matter how derivative it may seem, and it certainly beats the crap out of any Matrix sequel. I don't understand the gripes about the physics of what these guys are doing, since this is established from the opening shots as a comic book style film where assassins can curve bullets and hit targets miles away. It seems useless to argue the most outlandish elements of the film when it starts off with a guy leaping through a glass window and shooting the whole way across. Did you expect it to get more realistic from there?

Closing Statement

If you want a good looking action film that has wonderful fantasy elements and a strong cast, then Wanted is one of the best rides out there. Only Morgan Freeman and Angelina Jolie could make me believe in bullet curving assassins who get their targets assigned from an ancient loom, and the deftly stylish execution makes up for the silly elements. Glitzy and gory Wanted makes you wish more action films had this elaborate sense of humor about their subjects.

The Verdict

Guilty of being a hot mess of fantasy and action, Wanted borrows all its elements to make a bullet riddled collage of epic proportions.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 92
Audio: 92
Extras: 92
Acting: 90
Story: 85
Judgment: 90

Perp Profile

Studio: Universal
Video Formats:
• 2.35:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Subtitles:
• English
• French
• Spanish
Running Time: 110 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Rated R
Genres:
• Action
• Gangster

Distinguishing Marks

• Extended Sequence
• Cast and Characters
• Stunts on the L Train
• Special Effects: The Art of the Impossible
• Groundbreaking Visual Effects: From Imagination to Execution
• The Origins of Wanted: Bringing the Graphic Novel to Life
• Through the Eyes of Director Timur Bekmambetov
• Wanted: Motion Comics
• "The Little Things" Music Video Mash-Up
• The Making of the Video Game








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