After a career of serious British dramas, James McAvoy took his first steps as an action hero in Wanted (2008), a wildly absurd and just as wildly entertaining action fantasy about a secret society of assassins who take their instructions from a supernatural loom.
We meet Wesley (McAvoy) as an office drone with a soul-sucking job, a cheating girlfriend, and crippling anxiety attacks. Faster than he can say, “I wish I had something else to relieve my stress,” he learns that he’s inherited some kind of superhero DNA and recruited by an ancient fraternity known as The Weavers. Under the guidance of the enigmatic agent Fox (Angelina Jolie), Wesley learns to do things like bend bullets around corners.
Morgan Freeman plays the fraternity patriarch who assigns targets handed down from on high through the mystic loom that encodes the hit list in the weave. In essence, they are the hitmen of God or fate or whatever you want to call the supernatural entity that sends messages through the ancient computer. Or so they imagine themselves. I mean seriously, this is one job you’ve got to take on a lot of faith.
That’s the premise and the plot of this adaptation of misanthropic graphic novel, directed by Timur Bekmambetov (Nightwatch) with unhinged momentum and unrestrained spectacle. Bullets bend trajectories and cars defy the laws of physics, as do the holy hitmen themselves. There’s no smarts behind it, merely style and spectacle, and Bekmambetov just runs with it. He’s not concerned with making it look real, just with making it look really cool and letting the audience decide if they’re in the mood to play his game.
You either go with the fantasy or get stuck in the preposterousness of the entire premise and the flippant execution. I’m sold on it and on Angelina Jolie as the film’s star player, who steals the spotlight from nominal star McAvoy with her wicked moves and seductive smirk.
Terence Stamp, Thomas Kretschmann, and Common co-star.
It was nominated for Academy Awards for sound mixing and sound editing.
The Blu-ray and DVD special editions include featurettes and an extended scene. The Blu-ray adds a picture-in-picture audio/video track and an interactions “Scene Explorer.”