Thursday, July 17, 2008

Wanted (2008)



In the midst of slow-motion action, gravity-defying leaps, bullet-time sequences and curving bullets, the hero puts on a pair of sunglasses, then promptly takes them off quipping “Bad idea!”. Wanted belongs to the generation of movies after The Matrix that have benefited from the success of slo-mo stylized and choreographed action sequences. But Wanted distinguishes itself in the most prominent way possible: it enjoys what it is.

Wesley Gibson (James McAvoy) is a regular office cubicle-dweller who discovers, in quite style, that he is the son of a legendary assassin. Mastering his 400-beats per minute heartbeat to super-sense makes him one of the Fraternity, a group of assassins led by Sloan (Morgan Freeman) that exist as the hand of fate. As Fox (Angelina Jolie) says: Kill one, maybe save a thousand.

Timur Bekmambetov, the Russian director of visual stunners Nightwatch and Daywatch, brings the same manic imagination to Hollywood that has become his forte. Kids with toys hardly come up with wilder sequences. These set-pieces occur in frequent intervals through out the movie with enough story filling in-between them to make the movie work, starting with a jaw-dropping gun-fight involving two skyscrapers. Almost all of the action is physically impossible, so the movie does require a suspension of belief. But having Angeline Jolie as the instigator of most of these scenes only adds to them; she resonates the screen with a coolness that makes it far easier to enjoy what could otherwise be quite absurd. Look out for her scenes with the red car – who else can pull that off with such charm? Morgan Freeman, as the leader of the assassins, is voice and presence. It is always a relief to watch Morgan Freeman play characters like Sloan (or The Boss from Lucky Number Slevin) after all the serious work he does.

Surprisingly, after the movie is over and you have left the cinema, you are not left with just an imprint of some screenshots of visual beauty. Wanted has a life longer than usual popcorn summer movies. It has a rare mix of arrogance and humility that brings it closer to home and makes it likeable in retrospect. Saying any more would be giving away too much.

My rating --> 3.5 of 5

Spoiler: Hollywood has picked up a valuable tip in the last few movies: the kick-ass closing shot. We’ve seen its emphatic use in two movies this year, and this movie also packs one. That is three times already in major movies within three months. I just hope they don’t overkill it.

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