Tuesday, July 1, 2008


If you've read my previous reviews, you'll know that I really like both Night Watch and Day Watch by Russian director Timur Bekmambetov. Wanted is his debut American movie. He tries to maintain his unique style with this movie, but it doesn't quite work as well with the slightly more realistic plot.

Wanted essentially follows Wesley Gibson (James McAvoy) as he is recruited by an organization of assassins known as "The Fraternity." The group is led by Sloan (Morgan Freeman) and Gibson's mentor is Fox (Angelina Jolie). The clan take on missions of assassination assigned to them by a loom. Yes, a loom. What's more- a loom of fate. This really is as dumb as it sounds. Bekmambetov is no stranger to this brand of idea, however. In Day Watch the coveted artifact was The Chalk of Destiny. The difference between those movies and Wanted is that those were based in a sort of underground mythology. This movie is supposed to be based in reality, but these pivotal absurdities make it rather unbelievable.

His directing is slick as always. Tracking bullets from across a city, spectacular car chases, and an obnoxiously overdone train crash. These types of epic scenes worked perfectly in harmony with his Russian movies, and here they looked great- but unfortunately they didn't save this movie. It's difficult to put my finger on why this movie didn't work as well. I think it's trying to transplant the very uniquely Russian feel to a very American movie. This was not a necessary cast at all. The acting took a back seat to the camera work and action. Having big names in the leads only functioned to be a distraction. It's more difficult to see Angelina Jolie in this gritty yet hip underworld than an unknown actress.

Thematically the movie was decent. Gibson is pulled from his depressing humdrum life into this world of violence and intrigue. It was amusing that his assassin skills had been been diagnosed as panic attacks in his normal life. He had to break out of his cubicle job to accomplish what he was really meant for (kind of like a lesser Neo from The Matrix). And there are a fair amount a twists towards the end. Unfortunately these all turned out to be pretty underwhelming. It's not a terrible, and looked pretty good. It's a shame this great director had to resort to pandering to a Hollywood movie. Hopefully the sequel to Day Watch will be coming soon, and hopefully it will recapture that Russian spirit that made the first two so good.


No comments: