[Review]A shoot-’em-up escape from humdrum life

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[Review]A shoot-’em-up escape from humdrum life

In “Wanted,” the latest shoot-’em-up to hit the big screen here, bullets can defy the laws of physics to swerve around obstacles. Gunmen can also aim so precisely that their bullets can smash into their opponent’s in midair.

And if you do get hit, well, there’s a special white blood cell-infused bath you can take that will heal most any wound in the span of a few hours.

In short, Wanted asks its viewers to suspend reality.

In the film’s violent, video game-esque la-la land, an average Joe ? or in this case, one Wesley Gibson (James McAvoy) ? can turn his panic attacks into a hyper sensory superpower that allows him to accomplish such feats as shooting the wings off flies.

Of course, being the self-professed “most insignificant a**hole of the 21st century” that he is in the beginning of the film, Wesley needs a little help from his friends, a group of assassins called The Fraternity that literally crashes its way into his life one mundane evening.

Under the tutelage of The Fraternity, the emasculated accountant Wesley transforms into a killing machine. And motivated by The Fraternity’s leader, Sloan (Morgan Freeman), Wesley’s on a mission: to avenge his father’s cold-blooded murder.

McAvoy seamlessly transitions from each stage of his characters’ life to the next, showing a gradual dynamism. His development from a blathering coward upon his introduction to his Fraternity mentor Fox (Angelina Jolie), then to a petulant rootless student, and finally to high-powered assassin is nuanced.

McAvoy as Wesley questions every step along the way and maintains the same piercing yet sullen eyes and scowl throughout the film, just supplements them with growing edge. Such nuances thus create a believable character ? in this universe, anyway. Oh, and then there’s the fact that the Briton’s American accent can rival even the great Hugh Laurie’s.

Loosely based on Mark Millar’s comic books, Wanted is mindless summer action at its peak: lots of blood and slo-mo scenes, all in the patois of a ticked-off Samuel L. Jackson (without any of the irony of “Snakes on a Plane”).

To me, although Wanted appeared to be nothing but a lame action film from its trailer, it’s admittedly entertaining if completely fantastical. Jolie does a stunning job of being fierce in a Tyra Banks-meets-Lara Croft way, and Freeman backs her up in all his solemn glory.

The plot’s traditional narrative of a young man realizing his destiny offers traditional appeal, yet includes a twist that keeps things interesting despite the film’s overly generous length.

But as for its message, all I have to say is thank God that Wanted so clearly takes place in Movieland. There, one bored young office drone is able to reinvigorate his life with a toy chest of weaponry and a hot sidekick.

“This is me taking control of my life,” Wesley says in the final, vengeful blowout sequence of the film, before he challenges viewers to do the same with some profanity to spice things up.

But chances are, viewers by this point will have numbed their brains with this gleeful bloodbath well past the point of any real contemplation on the meaning of life.


Action, Thriller / English

110 min.

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By Hannah Bae Contributing Writer [hannahbae@gmail.com]

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