Wanted

It's got action and guns and a secret society of super-assassins. It's got Morgan Freeman being stately, Angelina Jolie being sexy and James McAvoy stepping up to the A-list as Hollywood's most unlikely action hero. It's got effects and visual flourishes of the sort you'd expect from Day Watch and Night Watch helmer Timur Bekmambetov. And it's all based on a series of graphic novels that, I'm told, were something else.

That then could be the key to getting the most out of this gloriously insane movie. Those who worshipped the original comic books / graphic novels (is there a difference? do I care?) will no doubt have very strong opinions on how Wanted the movie stands up. For a neutral like myself? Wanted is about as much fun as I've had in the cinema this year. And last year. And, while we're on the subject, the year before that. It's excessive, violent, ludicrously over-the-top and it'll leave you sweaty, shaking and clapping like a violent Teletubby shouting "Again! again!"

Some of you will hate it, of course, and there's an early acid test. One of the secret super-assassins sprints up a corridor, breaks through a high-rise window and soars across the street to the roof of the building opposite. It's quite clearly impossible and you will react in one of two ways. If you think to yourself "that's stupid" get up and walk out because there's nothing for you here. If you think to yourself "that's stupid... but REALLY cool" then strap yourself in, because you ain't seen nothin' yet.

McAvoy starts the film like Mr Tumnus and ends up as a Terminator, and you'll believe his transformation entirely. He plays Wesley Gibson, an office drone with a life that's falling apart. His boss is a bitch, his "best friend" is sleeping with his girlfriend, and he's got anxiety issues. Did we say life? Frankly it barely qualifies. He is then the least likely person to receive the news that his estranged father was the most super-assassin in a group of super-assassins, and he's just been, well, assassinated. Wesley thus inherits everything, from the several million dollars in assets to the guns and, as it transpires, the training. He will be the next super-assassin and the man charged to take out his father's killer. But there might be a few more slayings before he gets to that target.

And that, dear filmgoer, is only the first hour. The film then goes off in completely unexpected directions, adding surprising depth and twists where most would have added explosions. It's beautifully paced with equal focus on the set-up and the action. The performances are better than you'd expect. And the whole package will leave you thrilled, knackered and giggling like a schoolboy. Entertainment with bullets, balls and brilliance, Wanted is what you've always hoped summer movies would be like.

Official Site
Wanted at IMDb

Celebrity Squares with Mark Millar at the Guardian
Neil Davey chats with Wanted director Timur Bekmambetov

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Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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