GENRE: Souped-up shoot-'em-up
THE PITCH: Miserable young accountant Wesley Gibson (James McAvoy) discovers that his long-lost father belonged to a 1,000-year-old group of assassins called the Fraternity, whose members, including the alluring Fox (Angelina Jolie) and avuncular Sloan (Morgan Freeman), have magic hitman powers, such as making bullets curve after being fired.
MONEY SHOTS: In the first big chase, Fox flips a car, crashes into the side of a bus, knocks the bus onto its other side, then drives off the bus and keeps going. It makes Wesley's subsequent fancy car-flipping stunt look tame by comparison. Wesley and Fox pursue a killer in a passenger train that falls off a mountain trestle in a jaw-dropping bit of destruction. Wesley hits his asshole best friend with a computer keyboard, and the flying keys spell "FUCK YOU" in slow motion — which sums up Wanted in one shot.
BEST LINE: "Do you make sweaters or do you kill people?" Wesley asks Sloan when he tours the textile factory that provides the Fraternity with its cover.
WORST LINE: "Insanity is wasting your life as a nobody when you have the blood of a killer in your veins," Sloan tells Wesley. Just so we're clear, Wanted, you're saying it's better to be a mass murderer than a nobody? Really?
FLESH FACTOR: A quick buffalo shot of the best friend screwing Wesley's girlfriend. A thoroughly tattooed rear view of Jolie stepping from a tub (although a body-double quick-change could be involved). McAvoy stays shirtless for a long, angsty scene.
MP3-TO-BE: The film prominently uses Nine Inch Nails' "Every Day Is Exactly the Same" and suggests a hybrid of beer commercial and heavy-metal music video, although it's actually based on a graphic novel.
PRODUCT PLACEMENT: Heineken figures prominently in Wesley's and Fox's introductory gunplay. As an accountant, Wesley Googles himself and believes the lack of results confirms his loser status.
BODY COUNT: At least 20 in Wesley's major one-man attack scene near the end, culminating with a half dozen thugs shot with the same bullet. About 10 kills, mostly bloody head shots, in the rest of the movie. The train crash probably claimed scores of lives, but don't dwell on the collateral damage.
HEY, WAIT A MINUTE: Isn't it kind of weird that Angelina Jolie is a United Nations goodwill ambassador (not to mention an Oscar winner), yet she plays sexy, unapproachable killers in films such as this and Mr. and Mrs. Smith? Wanted's Fraternity blurs the issue by allegedly targeting bad guys, but still.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Director of the Russian Nightwatch thrillers, Timur Bekmambetov overdoses on flash in an effort to out-muscle The Matrix without capturing The Matrix's ingenious sci-fi rules or its sparks of wit. Wanted's insolent attitude caters to the kind of white-collar douchebags it pretends to make fun of, and proves that graphic novels don't have to be about superheroes to provide material for silly movies.
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