Netflix UK film review: Wanted
James R | On 04, Dec 2013
Director: Timur Bekmambetov
Cast: James McAvoy, Angelina Jolie, Morgan Freeman
Watch Wanted online in the UK: Netflix UK / Apple TV (iTunes) / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / Google Play
Wasting away in a cubicle, Wesley (McAvoy) is bored of his pointless life of office-bound slavery. He’s a bit like Dilbert, but much better looking. Laying into himself via voice-over, Wesley’s loathing even exceeds that of his cruel boss. Do we hate him too? Of course not. He’s James McAvoy.
Then, in comes Angelina Jolie. And any sense of Fight Club-derived humour goes out the window. She saves him from near death with her gun, straddling the bonnet of a car in the process. Her name is Fox. And she has some Important Information: it turns out Wesley’s father was a mega awesome assassin who could curve bullets around corners with a gun. His father is now dead. He was part of a super secret society, called The Fraternity (which is just another word for society). In fact, rewind 10 minutes, and we see his father die on top of a skyscraper. He leaps across the stratosphere in slow-motion, bending bullets into people’s brains. Then, he gets shot by a sniper 20 miles away. After vampire blockbuster Night Watch, it’s good to see that Timur Bekmambetov is still a fan of realism.
Coming across to America like Russia’s answer to John Woo, Timur takes on Michael Bay and Bruckheimer’s Law with this ridiculous tale of guns, weaponry and more guns. In Moscow, you may be able to drive a car up a building but in America, it’s harder to get away with.
But back to young Wesley. Following in his father’s footsteps, he meets The Fraternity, a guild of assassins who take down bad guys. Who runs this mysterious sect, deciding the end of many? Fate. Or, more specifically, Morgan Freeman. Over thousands of years, The Fraternity developed their own secret language. It’s called nonsense. And only Morgan can decipher it. Reading off their so-called Loom of Fate, he cuts little squares of cloth from a fabled Tapestry of Tripe and names their next target.
Will Wesley join the ranks? Will he avenge his father’s death? When will he take his shirt off? All these questions curve round corners to hit their predictable targets. Held together by its charismatic lead, the ropey result barely survives the chase. Did you know all wounds can be healed by sitting in a bath of wax? Our hero can even shoot the wings off flies. The only disappointment is that he can’t put the script out of its misery instead.
The vacuous characters are a waste of the cast, which includes the talented Marc Warren and an overlooked turn from Night Watch’s lead star. Where there is a back-story, it’s terribly misjudged. Leaping over logic with abandon, Wanted’s surface sheen can’t conceal the silliness beneath. “You’re not an assassin of fate, you’re just a thug who can bend bullets!” yells McAvoy, as he trains up rats high on peanut butter (which apparently explode). You know a film’s struggling when the climax rests on such a distinction.
Wanted is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £9.99 monthly subscription.