I saw Wanted the other night. The reviews were good, the trailer looked decent, the movie looked decent, I’m a fan of James McAvoy, I’m a fan of action movies — how could I go wrong?
I hated it.
It’s not that it wasn’t stylish and it’s not that the actors weren’t good (it always amazes me when someone with an accent as thick as McAvoy’s can pull off and sustain another accent for so long). It’s that the whole thing was so heavy-handed and internally inconsistent. And that it turns out the trailers gave away almost all the good sequences, but since every trailer seems to that now, it’s my own damn fault for believing them.
The things that bugged me most (slight spoilers):
Look — it’s a symbol! Overuse of web imagery. The loom pulling threads from a wall of bobbins. The loom, broken, turning into a tangled web. Morgan Freeman playing cat’s cradle. Ow, stop hitting me!
One big train wreck. Admittedly this sequence didn’t make it into the trailers, which was nice, but it spoiled the whole illusion for me. Up until this point, there have been no bystander casualties really — car crashes, maybe someone shot in passing but (and this may sound callous) if anyone died, you didn’t see them. Train crash, people with faces, massive fatalities. No consequences for the heroes — in fact, no heroes. What happened to kill one to save a thousand? Instant loss of empathy.
Myth-ing link. This one is really probably just me, but I like a little myth, a little back story. Wanted teased us with it, but didn’t deliver. A thousand year-old fraternity of assassins started by weavers. Fabulous arcane bullets, funky weapons, a healing bath. I want to know more! Or things could just blow up some more instead.
Asking too much. I can suspend disbelief with the best of them but I can’t make it do acrobatics. A few little inconsistencies I can handle but there were just too many of them to string together. Why was the Russian out running around when it seemed like he was so damaged he just stayed inside? How did an archive full of paper and scraps of cloth survive a fiery explosion when it was specifically shown as a location filled with incendiary devices? Why was it such shocking news that the mysterious source of ammunition for the rogue assassin was a monk living in the monastery where the Fraternity had its beginning? Didn’t anyone else get their ammunition there? Maybe from a different monk. And, wait — didn’t the Fraternity start as weavers, not monks?
All around, a let down and that’s with me going in expecting nothing more than a decent shoot ’em up. My partner (who really hated it) compared it to Desperado or Fight Club (which admittedly he also hated). I think Fight Club is a very good comparison especially given Wanted‘s closing line, but I found Fight Club ten times smarter. There were good bits: the action sequences were indeed very nice (the final one has beautiful flow), the hero’s cheating best friend ran away with his scenes, McAvoy was a highlight, and I’m not going to stop playing the soundtrack. Other bits were like the hero’s anguished bellows of “Sloane!”– I wanted to stand up in the theatre and scream “Khan!!”
(Oh, and just as an aside, Team America: World Police has permanently and brilliantly destroyed my ability to watch a training montage without snickering, but that’s hardly Wanted’s fault.)