God help me, I love action films. I know that in many peoples’ eyes this doesn’t make me a good critic. It doesn’t really matter what I say back because they can’t hear the reply due to their heads being firmly stuck up their own arses. So- “Wanted”, then.

Wanted (2008)

After the success of the “X-Men” films, the “Spider-Man” films and the like in the early 2000s, Hollywood has been clawing at any potentially profitable comic book franchises. Thing is, with all the famous and semi-famous characters, such as the Hulk and Daredevil respectively, being snapped up already, the filmmakers are going to increasingly obscure titles in an effort to bring them to the silver screen. “Wanted” is one of those films.

“Do you make sweaters… or do you kill people?”

The plot of “Wanted” is loosely based on the comic book series of the same name. The main character is Wesley Gibson (James McAvoy), a self confessed loser who works in a dead-end office job for his bitch of a boss. His girlfriend is cheating on him with his best friend and he is on anti-anxiety medication for his frequent panic attacks. Things change when he meets Fox (Angelina Jolie)- a member of an organisation of assassins called “The Fraternity”, headed by Sloan (Morgan Freeman). James McAvoy really surprised me in this film. I always thought that he was just floppy-haired period drama fodder- purely there to be eye candy for mums and daughters as they sit around munching chocolate. He proved he was a good actor in “Atonement” and in “Wanted” he shows that he’s a great fish out of water action hero- the sort of hero Nic Cage used to play before he started believing he was the next Arnie and wearing silly rugs on his head. Angelina Jolie is great as the suitably named Fox, even if a little too thin and pulling an angry cat face at least half of the runtime. Morgan Freeman is well…Morgan Freeman, which isn’t a bad thing and we at least get to hear him curse, which I would argue is worth watching the film for alone.

In broad terms,”Wanted” is a mixture of “The Matrix” and “Fight Club” and to a lesser extent “Minority Report” and “Shoot ‘Em Up”. You may think that with a long list of similar films like that “Wanted” may play out as just another rip-off type flick, incorporating good elements from better films into it. This is true to a certain extent, but even films like the “Indiana Jones” saga borrow from things like American Saturday morning serials. Whilst I’m not comparing “Wanted” to the “Indiana Jones” films, it’s worth keeping in mind.

I should hate “Wanted”. It’s a brainless film with more emphasis on style than substance. However, it is ridiculously entertaining. Watching it, I could pinpoint where the pretentious critics and audiences made up their minds about this film. The scene in question being the bit where Fox is driving a car with her feet, sprawled out on the bonnet, shooting at a pursuing car. To be honest though, I loved it. Sure, I knew after that point it wasn’t as smart as “Fight Club” but who the hell cares? I think it’s very easy to forget that films are there to basically entertain. All this stuff about the human condition and political agendas is secondary as far as I’m concerned. Plus, the film has a great sense of humour about itself, which is a sure-fire way to get into ol’ Benjamin J’s good books.

“…But as it stands, the way you behave – I feel I can speak for the entire office when I tell you… go fuck yourself.”

I don’t understand the singling out of the “Loom of Fate” revelation. Sure, it’s not exactly believable but I thought we’d left our cynical hats on the floor when we were told that bullets could be curved? Anyway, there is a lot to like about “Wanted”. The action alone is inventive enough to warrant a look. I’m not lying when I say that the derailed train sequence is one of the freshest and most original action scenes in a film in recent history. I love the opening few scenes too with Wesley’s scumbag best friend making him buy the condoms he’s going to use with Wesley’s girlfriend. The retribution scene where Wesley finally has enough of his boss is brilliantly done too- with this shot where Barry finally gets what he deserves at the mercy of an ergonomic keyboard, possibly being one of my favourite shots ever.

Yes, “Wanted” isn’t exactly the smartest film ever made. However, when stupidity as as entertaining as this, I couldn’t care less.

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