It may matter to you, it may not – but this review definitely contains spoilers.
So, just how rubbish is Wanted?
Put it this way; if, after the movie finished, Angelina Jolie herself had come out from behind the curtain and begun to service me with her bouncy chair lips, running herself up and down my shaft and continuously muttering “I’m sorry about the film” for as long as it took before I burst my frothy top, I would still walk away with an overwhelming sense of disappointment.
That’s how rubbish it is.
Normally at this point I would be calling for the heads of the filmmakers and the actors to be brought before me as a sacrificial display of consumer power, but not this time. Here, my irk is squared directly at the people who sold me the movie, at the people who cut the trailers and the journalists who salivated over the orgy of averageness.
This is not the next great leap forward. This is not Angelina Jolie proving her worth in tabloid gossip, nor James ‘Mr Tumnus’ McAvoy becoming a leading man…
It is not the first great action film of the summer and it is not a good example of what can be done by mixing crazed Soviet directors with Western budgets.
It is balls. Pure and simple balls, and I hold those who told me it was anything but responsible.
This film is a triumph of marketing, of deceptive trailer teasing and wilful cohesion on my behalf. It’s as much my fault as anybody else’s because I chose to believe their bullshit this time around. Instead of cynically avoiding it based on past experiences I fell for their fast cuts and hyped hyperbole and it led me into a world of regret. Had I expected nothing, had I been uninformed and unexcited then I would have discovered an ok action film… but I didn’t. I was offered the moon and like a foolish and greedy child I reached for it.
Mr Tumnus plays Wesley Gibson, a pathetic loser of an American accent who has a shit job and a zero result hit on Google. Based on a clear and obvious lie about his lineage he is inducted into a fraternity of assassins who kill targets chosen by a mystical weaving ‘Loom of Fate’ and presided over by the villain – oops, I mean a gravitas-intoning Morgan Freeman. I’m not making this up. A Loom of Fate. Morgan Freeman actually says at one point ‘this is the Loom of Fate’. It’s fucking awful.
For half the film Morgan trains Tumnus by going on and on about the ripples of our actions and how they kill one person to save a thousand. Angelina is there too, playing an assassin called ‘the Fox’ but who may as well be called Emo Teenager’s Wet Dream, such is the gratuitous Nine Inch Nails soundtracking to her slow-motion tattooed fetishism. Tumnus gets beaten up by the guy from Hustle, learns to curve bullets and surfs trains before, six weeks later, becoming a world class assassin with superhuman abilities to slow time.
I know what you’re thinking - that it actually sounds pretty cool, right? Silly and forgetful, but a little bit cool. I mean, come on, a fraternity of magical assassins who kills the butterfly effectors of the world for a greater good. Looks good on paper, n’est pas?
I thought so too. I was wrong. It’s one of those films where opening a door takes 15 different cuts, angles, whip pans and needless CGI shots to achieve - where what should be gleefully celebrated as silly is taken as the height of seriousness and where every action sequence is undermined by the relentless safety net of computer highjiggerypokery.
What is particularly frustrting is that this should be a good movie. The director, Timur Bekmambetov, made the awesome Nightwatch which, while equally ludicrous and self indulgent, still manages to makes sense and is hardly shy of creativity. The action scenes, where he normally excels, are empty and marred by such bad editing that they don’t make any sense whatsoever – hiding their flaws and rampant inconsistancies behind flashes and shakes of post production meddling. This film should have been a two hour version of the Hotel Lobby scene from the Matrix - instead it was like all the bad bits from the remake of Gone in 60 Seconds.
Half way through, the plot thus far is switched and the potentially good setup is squandered on needless story twists and the sense that we should take the story seriously and care for these characters. McAvoy handles the role well, but Jolie is like a bored Lara Croft, her performance a phoned-in montage of seductive glances and blank stares. Morgan Freeman is wasted as the leader of the assassins, intoning as if at a bible meeting and wearing a huge flashing sign around his neck saying ‘Bad Guy.’ Terence Stamp pops up and then pops down again with little or no influence. It’s all so… corporate… and hardly the anarchic gunfest I was led to believe it was.
That said, it’s got style and some really nice imagery and the ideas for some of the sequences, if not the sequences themselves, are very nice. Unfortunately the tone is all wrong and instead of thrilling and delighting it bores and annoys.
This is all the fault of the marketing people. Movies have to be big these days. Big, big, big, big, BIG. They have to have big stars and big openings and big press and it all ruins the final effect of the film. Had Wanted been a slow burning word of mouth movie, it would have been so much better. Had I not been exposed to all the hype and reviews and relentless plugging I may not have expected so much and may have enjoyed it more.
Like I have said, though, this is as much my fault too. After so many years of being disappointed by movies I thought were going to be great I should have learnt my lesson. Nothing will ever be as good as you want it to be, or as you’ve heard it is, or as they tell you it is. Wanted could have been a pleasant surprise, instead it was just another rubbish movie.
There’s still The Dark Knight and Hellboy 2 to come though… and they’re obviously going to be great.