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Wanted (2008)

by on 2012/04/22

“It a choice, Wesley, that each of us must face: to remain ordinary, pathetic, beat-down, coasting through a miserable existence, like sheep herded by fate – or you can take control of your own destiny and join us, releasing the caged wolf you have inside.”

* * * * *

Wanted is important to me. It is, in fact, as integral to my film collection and my life as Zack Snyder’s 300. I wrote on this blog that I keep 300 carefully filed in my movie library like someone might store away canned peaches for a coming Apocalypse.

If 300 is the canned peaches, then Wanted is the emergency beef jerky.

Based on the graphic novel of the same name by Mark Millar and J. G. Jones, the film revolves around Wesley Gibson (James McAvoy) a joyless office drone in Chicago. He has a hateful, overbearing boss, a grey, veal-fattening-pen cubicle, a facetious, false best friend, and a whorish, whining girlfriend.

He takes anti-anxiety pills to cope, his bank account is overdrawn, his apartment is a joke, he’s sleepwalking through life.

By stark and arresting contrast to Wesley’s drab existence, the opening sequence of this movie – a supernaturally sublime assassination – makes every fibre of my being sing a hallelujah chorus.

Then there’s Fox (Angelina Jolie). She arrives in Wesley’s life – as out of place as a lithe panther in the pharmacy aisle of Walmart.  Fox brings Wesley to Sloan (Morgan Freeman), the calm, cool and in command leader of a secret guild of assassins called the Fraternity.

Based in a textile mill, the Fraternity do the bidding of the Loom of Fate – a loom that spells out the names of wrong-doers who need to be exterminated. The trained killers of the Fraternity are only too happy to oblige with their bullet bending, knives …and peanut butter.

Car chasing, bullet raining, black and crimson exploding, arcane secret language decoding gorgeousness ensues. Wanted‘s action sequences are a things of violent, exquisite beauty.

Directed by Timur Bekmambetov, Wanted is filled with so many things I love. As you can clearly tell, I’m listing crazily toward the land of fully-engorged purple prose.

I am rarely earnest about anything. I am deadly, unflinchingly earnest about Wanted.

This film, shot in my motherland Prague, is more than an opportunity to see and hear the genteel Morgan Freeman utter the word, “motherfucker.” (That is pretty great right there).

This is also an opportunity to see the compelling, pale and entirely sympathetic James McAvoy quit his day job in a way that rivals the quitting scenes in Fight Club and American Beauty. It is another excellent use of the guttural, Germanic-sounding f-word.

Say what you will about Angelina Jolie – she’s breathtaking as the tortured assassin Fox. Inked and ethical, Fox rocks.

I love all that Wanted is, all it says, everything it promises. Mostly, it makes me wish I didn’t say “I’m sorry” so much.

Buy this film, buy this film, buy this film. Then tuck it away behind the canned goods, batteries and candles. You’ll need it one day.

* * * * *

110 minutes

Rated R for strong bloody, bloody, bloody butchering violence throughout, Angelina Jolie in a towel, Morgan Freeman making you wish you swore more for some reason and entirely too many rats

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