© Universal Pictures International Germany GmbH

U.S.A./Germany 2008

Opening 4 Sep 2008

Directed by: Timur Bekmambetov
Writing credits: Michael Brandt, Derek Haas, Chris Morgan, Mark Millar, J.G. Jones
Principal actors: James McAvoy, Morgan Freeman, Angelina Jolie, Terence Stamp, Thomas Kretschmann

After the Russian success of his films Day Watch and Irony of Fate, director Timur Bekmambetov (Kazakhstan-born) started on his American feature debut with a story taken from the cult comic books by Mark Millar and J.G. Jones.

25-year old accountant Wesley Gibson (James McAvoyAtonement, Last King of Scotland) is suffering humiliation at his job, a nagging girlfriend and numbing anxiety. This apathetic youth, popping pills like others eat popcorn, meets seductive Fox (Angelina JolieMr & Mrs Smith) at the local drug store. She tells him that his estranged father, the world’s greatest assassin, has been killed. When shooting breaks out, she rescues the panic-stricken Wesley by sweeping him into her blood-red sports car. A spectacular car chase follows with much shooting between Fox and the famous killer Cross (Thomas Kretschmann).

Wesley, our nerd, wakes up in an old factory, surrounded by guards. Fox is there, tattoos all over her slender arms, introducing Sloan (Morgan Freeman), the mastermind of the 1,000 year-old Fraternity of Weavers. They are no more than trained assassins carrying out a code hidden in the fibre of the Loom of Fate: “Kill one, save a thousand”. Wesley is chosen to follow in his father’s footsteps, to avenge his death by becoming a super killer. Poor Wesley – sure enough, his life was boring, but this is a bit much for one day. He will never be the same again. A return to his old existence is impossible, and he joins the brutal gang.

And so the fantasy-crime-thriller takes its noisy course. Excellent camera work shows curving bullets (speciality of the Fraternity) flying in slow motion, amazing stunts and inventive actions … until it gets repetitive and the tongue-in-cheek self-mockery is lost. The few amusing scenes are taken over by senseless killing with plenty of gore. It is like watching a video game with the rotation of bang-boom-bang and flying bodies. A chase on a high-speed train involves more violence and the plot takes a few twists towards the end.

You would not expect the Glasgow-born actor James McAvoy, an alumnus of the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, in an action thriller. Well, why not another Scottish superhero – after Sean Connery as James Bond. McAvoy is very convincing in starting off as the wimp, transforming into a strong-willed, muscled hero. Other well-known names on the set are Terence Stamp and Common (as the gunsmith).

If you don’t take the plot too seriously and like watching adrenalin-pumping brutal actions in a superman fantasy-world with frightening references to reality, you might enjoy this film. Wanted is rated as an R-movie, requiring under 17s to be accompanied by an adult because of “Non-stop violence and a brief sex scene”. (Birgit Schrumpf)

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