In case you haven’t seen the flick, Wanted, starring Angelina Jolie, James McAvoy, Morgan Freeman, and Common, is a tale about an “Accounts Manager” (McAvoy) stuck in a humdrum job and relationship that are killing him (no exaggeration), who discovers that he’s secretly destined to be the baddest of an almost preternatural band of assassins. Think “James Bond in an Indiana Jones film” or “Vin Diesel played by a teamup of Jolie and McAvoy” and you’ll be in the vicinity.
1.) Visually, the film is exceptional. A lot of concept art must have gone into the settings, and even the commonplace ones (e.g. a convenience store) are rich in color. 2.) The action is paced perfectly: breakneck without altogether ignoring physics. 3.) The acting is pretty much spot on. Freeman is good as ever; Jolie does that slinky, mysterious, all-in-the-eyes thing she does so well; McAvoy carries off his character’s alternating fearful paleness and red-faced tension so believably you worry his head will explode; and Common evokes near-silent deadliness. 4.) The plot holds together! We all know how often action films depend upon a roller-coaster ride of events to cover up a lack of story—and how often they fail. Wanted shows the same loving attention to plot that it does to visuals, pacing, and acting. This is part of the reason I’m so surprised not to have seen more buzz about the film.
As you can probably predict from the previous paragraph, I don’t have much to criticize about this flick. Maybe they could have cut a few frames from McAvoy’s second office scenes, just for length. Maybe Common’s character was too quiet (though I’ve not seen him act before, so this might have been a strategic decision to have him onscreen as eye candy but not competing with the acting chops of Freeman, Jolie, and McAvoy). Maybe they could have better explained why those funky bullets were engraved and came apart during flight like two-stage rockets (though who really cares: they looked cool). Of course, people who don’t like cinematic blood (think Fight Club, Kill Bill, or The Matrix) won’t like this either. But as you can see, I’m reaching, here.
If you’re a fan of action films, do yourself a favor and buy (don’t just rent) Wanted. It’s a film you’ll want to watch more than once.