Although described by most as “that one with Angelina Jolie and James McAvoy in it”, Wanted’s main draw for me was down to it being “that one directed by the crazy Russian dude.” Timur Bekmambetov wowed with his insane style in vampire flicks Night Watch and Day Watch, not only showing utterly random shit on screen, but showing it in an utterly random way. Watching his films is very much like speeding downhill on a rollercoaster – exhilarating, blurry, and slightly nauseating.
To get the most out of him you really need to unbuckle your seatbelt and just go along with the ride. Trying to find any semblance of sense or reality is like trying to enjoy Pirates of the Caribbean 2. After all, Wanted is based on a graphic novel and features super assassins, bullets that go round corners, magic healing wax and – genius this one – a “loom of fate”, which is up there with “the cube” from Transformers. If you’re expecting Wanted to be a semi-realistic action flick then your expectations should be blown away in the opening scene when a man leaps across two buildings, dodging bullets all the way.
As well as dealing with uber-cool assassins, Wanted looks at the abuse of power and skewed moral motives and actually puts forth the thoughtful question of: “wouldn’t you be much happier if you were an assassin, rather than a boring accountant?” (To be honest I’d rather they didn’t give accountants those sorts of ideas.) With the dollop of cubicle woes Wanted becomes the hyperactive offspring of Dilbert and The Matrix. A storyline that’s sort of familiar, except for that magic loom…
Visually this film is very much in Timur’s chaotic hands, but battling with the limelight is McAvoy and Jolie, the former sporting a weird American accent, the latter really needing to eat some pies. Seriously Jolie – it wouldn’t hurt to have some pastry goods or something. Maybe not every day, but you can treat yourself. Custard tarts are nice, if you fancy something a bit different. Or scones with jam. Maybe a biscuit or two. You get the idea.
There are some pretty cool set pieces interspersed with a fair dollop of nonsense, making Wanted thrilling but silly, a barrage of violent carnage with a heavy metal soundtrack and a few wry winks to any Night Watch fans. Like watching the Matrix lobby scene for 90 minutes, Wanted does amaze, but also falters a little with a jumbled middle and some vacuous characterisation. But what were you expecting? Timur’s style is a punch to the face and automatically gets Wanted an extra point, but for a faltering plot it can go no further, scoring a reasonable CF1. Give Timur some more money and see what else he’ll do.