Wesley Gibson is a loser who hates his life – and with good reason. At work, his boss torments him in front of his colleagues, and, back home, his girlfriend is a sexual magnet for everyone except him – including Wes’s supposed best friend. No wonder he’s on his 10th prescription for panic attack pills, which he downs like sweets. Fortunately for Wes, his life is over – his old one, anyway.
Enter Fox (Angelina Jolie), who crashes into Wes on the business end of a smoking gun. It seems his long-lost father was killed while working for the Fraternity – a centuries-old league of trained assassins pledged to carry out the unbreakable orders of fate.
Their motto is simple: Kill one, save a thousand. Now it’s Wes’ turn to follow in his father’s footsteps and release the caged wolf that’s always lurked inside of him. Killing is in Wes’ blood, and he trains under Fox and a motley crew that includes the Fraternity’s enigmatic leader, Sloan (Morgan Freeman). In time, the former slacker is reborn as the golden boy of the Fraternity and Wes starts to relish his new life, even exacting some best-served-cold revenge on tormentors past.
But soon, the sweet taste of power sours when he realizes that the intentions of his deadly associates aren’t as noble as first presented. As he wavers between newfound heroism and soul-killing vengeance, Wes will come to learn what no one – neither cold-blooded father nor steaming-hot assassin – could ever teach him: He alone controls his destiny. Russian-born director Timur Bekmambetov, who hails from Kazakhstan, has landed him his first English-language film with Wanted. 2004 saw the release of his Night Watch – a hit in his own country bigger than The Lord of the Rings.
The sequel, Day Watch, was released in early 2006 and again became a juggernaut – grossing nearly $40 million. After seeing the pair, the producers of Wanted knew they’d found their man. If Bekmambetov could create such visually stunning movies on such a low budget, there would be no holding back the auteur’s energetic point of view and dark sensibility when given a large-scale budget and the vast resources available to a studio-made film.
Of his thoughts on visual imagery, Bekmambetov remarks, “It is like 100 ideas are going on inside my brain, all fighting to come out. What happens is this makes a new style, maybe something that no one has seen before. I want to put the audience in the action – in the middle – so that they go on a journey with the character, not just sit and watch.”
The black humour present in the graphic novel of the same name – originally published as a six-issue limited series – is central to the cinematic adaptation. Wanted is very much Wesley’s story, and at its outset, he is about as far from a comic book “hero” as you can get. And yet, the character undergoes a remarkable metamorphosis, from pathetic to powerful, embracing his legacy and allowing his inner strength to push aside the weakling.
Wanted is a different kind of film – part Lara Croft, part Indiana, but mostly bedded in that peculiar animated graphic novel ethos that’s quite unlike anything else in the entertainment sphere. It is directed with a panache that’s rare in films nowadays, and the visual effect fairly explodes off the screen even in the quieter moments. Wanted is not high art or a anything that’ll have you pondering eternal questions as you leave the cinema. Rather it is a pain-free entertainment delivered with style and zest…..and a healthy dose of Angelina Jolie, if you’re that way inclined.