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wanted__2008__angelina_jolieWanted is about fathers and sons. It’s about a deadly fraternity, called, with startling clarity and simplicity, The Fraternity. It’s about bullets etched with epitaphs and tattooed assassins.

At its center is Wesley Gibson (James McAvoy) a cubicle-dwelling accountant so mild mannered he allows his best friend to carry on a torrid affair with his girlfriend and can’t stand up to his nagging boss. He’s a nobody; the kind of guy who Goggles his name and draws a blank. No Results. When a simple trip to the drug store to buy his anti-anxiety medication turns into an out-of-control shoot ‘em up between dueling killers (Angelina Jolie and Thomas Kretschmann) he is indoctrinated into the secret world of The Fraternity, a millennium old band of assassins. It seems his estranged father was a world class killer and Sloan (Morgan Freeman), the organization’s enigmatic head honcho believes Wesley has what it takes to join the exclusive club.

After a vigorous and violent training he goes from slacker to whacker; they mold him into a highly skilled killer ready to carry out the ancient code of The Fraternity and kill the man who offed his father.

Based on a high octane comic book series by Mark Millar and J.G. Jones, Wanted has the same manic energy of the graphic novels. Director Timur Bekmambetov uses Matrix-style action, combined with Quentin Tarantino-style attitude and a nod to the goofy humor of the Transporter movies to create an over-the-top bash-fest that takes off like a rocket from its opening minutes and doesn’t let-up until the end credits roll.

Unlikely action star James McAvoy, best known as Mr. Tumnus, the naive satyr in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, holds his own amidst the crazy carnage. As his character goes from office contract manager to contract killer the diminutive McAvoy proves that he can be convincing as both a dweeb and stone cold killer. Angelina Jolie, as the appropriately named Fox, riffs on her Mrs. Smith character—a kind of deadly runway model—managing to be simultaneously sultry and tough. Morgan Freeman puts a nasty spin on his well-worn calm but commanding film persona, playing a rare, for him, morally ambiguous character.

There’s nothing subtle about Wanted. The violence is graphic, out-of-control and plentiful—it’s Fight Club without the brainy subtext—the story is in-your-face and even Danny Elfman’s score can only be described as bombastic. It’s a shock to the senses that will delight action and comic fans but may leave the faint of heart dazed and confused. 

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