R, 1 hr. 20 min. Directed by: Timur Bekmambetov. Release Date: June 12, 2008. DVD Release Date: December 2, 2008.
Don’t get me wrong. I loved this movie when it first came out, but I’ve always wondered how James McAvoy fell from Atonement in 2007 to this in 2008. It’s a bit like falling asleep in Manhattan and waking up in downtown Baghdad. Unlike Atonement, which was absolutely brilliant, Wanted was empty but stylish fun. I’ve heard actors, even really good actors, say that every once in awhile they feel the need to do a project like this to keep their sanity. So, in that regard, I suspect James McAvoy used this as a vacation, because at this point in his career, he should have been able to write his own ticket just about anywhere. As should Angelina Jolie and Morgan Freeman… but lo and behold, they’re both here, too.
I’ve complained about movies that place style so far over substance before, so I'm not sure why it doesn't bother me here. Most recently, I made that complaint about Red Riding Hood, which looked very cool, but required the brain power of a toadstool in order comprehend it. Truth, Wanted isn’t that far off the Hood's bat, but at least there’s a noticeable lack of telepathic werewolves. What you do have is a vaguely cool, if comicky action flick that really could be the dream of a lot of people. Life sucks, you’re a total freak, and suddenly you realize that you’re a super-powered assassin? Sign me up. Oh, and your bestest assassin buddy is smoking hot. The whole situation is total win.
Where Wanted seems to fall apart is in the details (provided you, unlike me, didn’t have a problem with that whole curving bullets thing). It gets a bit silly. Between the wax that stimulates white blood cell products and thus creates a rapid healing environment, the super-slo-mo vision, and all the Cyrillic-writing Slavs that seem to be hanging around in “eastern Arabia,” it can be rough to take the movie seriously. But, I managed to hang on through all the flying car chases and mutant maneuvers to really enjoy this.
Every time I watch this movie, I wish I watched it more often. Is the movie perfect? Well, it depends on your qualifications, but to my mind it’s pretty close. I would have liked it to be a bit longer than 80 minutes, but I see why they went with a less is more approach.