Monday, June 30, 2008

Review: Wanted

Night Watch director Timur Bekmambetov delivers his first American film, which stars James McAvoy and Angelina Jolie as Matrix-style assassins in Wanted, a big-budget interpretation of yet another comic book we've never heard of. The film is slick and flashy... and not much else.

The highlights: great cast, great action--in particular there was this one sequence on a train that will knock your socks off. The slow-mo gunplay bits (bullets curving, striking each other, etc) include variations on "bullet time" that are different enough to never feel like the film is an out-and-out Matrix rip-off. Jolie is superb and sublime, fans will recognize her... um, bare ass... Fans of the Night Watch films will see Anton show up and talk about rats. Also, it's unabashedly R-rated--in a Hollywood film-culture in which any other comic book movie would get a PG-13. They use the added freedom to trump up the violence and language, to good effect--the end result is coarse and gritty.

The lowlights: first and foremost, over-narration. Rule number one of cinema: don't tell, show. Granted, it's no Sin City (which was thoroughly ruined for me by constantly telling me what I was seeing), but there's a difference between foreshadowing and telegraphing the climax. Also, the dialog was sub-par. McAvoy's catch phrase throughout was "I'm sorry", which is weak sauce, if you ask me. So, call it a one-two punch of talking too much and not having anything interesting to say.

Overview: it feels like a fabulously made B-movie. It's fun, frenetic, and pulse pounding, if a bit shallow and poorly-worded. Also, Angelina Jolie's bare ass, if you're into that sort of thing.

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