Friday, July 25, 2008
Director: Timur Bekmambetov
Writers: Michael Brandt (screenplay) & Derek Haas (screenplay)
Starring: James McAvoy (Wesley Gibson), Morgan Freeman (Sloan), Angelina Jolie (Fox), Terence Stamp (Pekwarsky), Thomas Kretschmann (Cross), Common (Gunsmith)
Trusting film critics can be a dangerous thing, especially when they write about mainstream films expecting it to be a masterpiece of sorts. Two recent example: Russian director Timur Bekmambetov's first Eng-lish language film, Wanted. While Salon.com gave it a glowing review, The New York Times completely ripped it apart. Christopher Nolan's The Dark Night. While Salon.com wrote off the movie as a young boy's idea of an adventure, the film has received rave reviews elsewhere, and is already a box office success.
Yet, you cannot dismiss the critics. The New York Times claims, Wanted is inspired by Fight Club and The Matrix. It's true, but par-tially. The action sequences are clearly done by people who are big fan of The Matrix, leaps on the air, flying cars, slow-motion shots of a bul-let's trajectory, and impossibly agile people doing impossible stunts. But boy, are they great!
Yeah, the film begins like Fight Club does, in the middle of the bore-dom of a man with enormous possibilities, who is struck in his desk job, with a tired, self-deprecatory voice-over explaining his plight. En-ters Angelina Jolie's Fox and the picture changes completely.
Director Timur Bekmambetov shot to fame with his Russian film Night Watch, a convoluted and complicated tale of vampires and good and evil, and kickass thriller. So, you trust, he knows his stuff, and he does know how to thrill, even if the story he is telling is not something overwhelming, or for that matter, have any meaning.
But mythology abounds. Allegedly based on a comic book series, it's the story of a group of assassins, who call themselves The Fraternity. Legend says a thousand years ago, a community of weavers received a code in the loom they span (that too binary codes, no less), telling them names of the people, by fate, yes sir, to be killed, ostensibly, to main-tain the balance on the earth. If you have seen Bekmambetov's Night Watch and Day Watch, this will make sense to you.
What follows next is neither Fight Club nor The Matrix. It's just a visual joyride, kinky stuff, mindless probably, but, great fun, as a friend of mine said, highly improbably but very necessary. And when Angelina Jolie is doing it, who wouldn't gape? She is probably the best thing the director could come up with about the movie.
But what redeems the film from being just another visual-effect ac-tion thriller is the presence of James McAvoy as Wesley Gibson. He's the everyman, he has a boring job, his girlfriend is dating his best friend, he does not even remember his father, his boss is always sitting over his head... How bad things can go, and how long can you stretch it? Sometimes it reaches its crescendo and you are ready to explode. That's what happens to Wesley, he takes the only exit window avail-able, even if that means being a killer, and following his non-existent father's footsteps. This is something that the audience can identify. Now, when he goes through the grid, it gives a cathartic effect to the audience.
So, here's what happened. The Fraternity is there for thousands of years. Then one of their best assassins goes rogue, and started killing member of the Fraternity, including Wesley's father. Now, he's after Wesley. At a shoot-out showdown in a super market, Wesley meets the mysterious Fox (Jolie), who handles guns if they were toys, and cars as if she's a female Michael Schumacher. Then he was taken to a mysteri-ous fort-like place where a very smart-looking Morgan Freeman in sharp-tailored suit asks him to shoot the wings of the flies, no kid-ding... And Wesley actually does, Freeman's Sloan actually shows him three wings-less flies, where are all the PETA guys?
Then Wesley was told that his father was a killer, a rich one and dead, and if he is willing to join the band, he can inherit the money, a substantial sum. He comes home, sleeps over the matter and decides to join The Fraternity without actually knowing why. Here starts the gruelling training, spanning some five weeks, the story is told by Wesley in fast forward mode, six weeks after, I am keeping one week for the last showdown. I am sure it takes times to travel from middle east to America and recover from a deadly train crash. Anyway, that's not what we are discussing. I don't want to be a spoilsport. So, I am not telling the ending, and the catch, and about Wesley’s father and whether Joile shows off her figure. Go figure!!
What's left. Oh, those bullet shots. How he flings his hand and the bullet goes whish in a curved pattern and hit the target, impossible, but beautiful to look at... And that's why you go to cinemas, don't you?