Movie Review | Wanted
Movie summary: A frustrated office worker learns that he is the son of a professional assassin and that he shares his father's superhuman killing abilities. (IMDb)
Before watching Wanted for a second time for this review, I did have a dim recollection of enjoying it the first time around, but I can't understand why I ever thought that. This has to be one of the most brainless, nonsensical movies I've ever seen that tries, and fails, to live off 'cool things happening' and not even succeeding there either.
There are maybe a couple of brief moments in slow-motion that look good, but most of the action - of which there is a lot - is just flat-out bad. I can accept that the characters we see have beyond-human capabilities, but when other normal things about the real world - like gravity - are ignored, it makes the superhuman abilities on display feel more fake.
The story linking these action scenes together doesn't really help either. Wanted starts off pretty slow to let the audience grow familiar with James McAvoy's Wesley, then goes from 0-60 in half a second when Fox (Angelina Jolie) shows up and is almost the exact same moment the movie falls apart. The movie becomes a hyperactive dog, just charging around aimlessly and not knowing why.
The real nail in the coffin for taking the movie seriously is when Wesley is finally considered to have finished his training with The Fraternity, who Fox works for under the guidance of Sloan - another role in which Morgan Freeman spends most of his time explaining things. Why? Because this happens halfway through the movie.
Wanted is structured like the world's worst roller-coaster, with one mildly enjoyable drop before a huge climb and then just a drop for the rest of the movie. The thing is, after the initial thrill of that second drop, the rest is just more of the same and honestly kind of boring. No spoiler, but the second half of this movie is just people shooting at other people, with the sides changing occasionally.
The real problem is that too much is squeezed into that second half, which means there isn't any time for the movie to take a moment to let the audience catch a breath from the mind-numbing action. It also makes you wonder why they spent so long building up Wesley at the start of the movie when he changes very quickly and very drastically twice and for no reason other than the plot needing him to.
It was genuinely more fun for me to enjoy trivial connections to other movies rather than devote any serious attention to Wanted. First, it was weird to hear McAvoy with an American accent, but even weirder to see that his best friend was a pre-Guardians of the Galaxy Chris Pratt. Or another MCU connection: Cross is played by Thomas Kretschmann, who was Strucker in Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Then there's the fun connection of Common starring as the Gunsmith, which only reminded me of his role in John Wick: Chapter 2. If not for what happens to him in Wanted, this could've easily been an origin for Cassian in that movie, with both characters proving to be highly gun-focused assassins.
It's not just other movies that this movie reminded me of, with a climb out of a derailed train heavily reminiscent of Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, which came out a year later and was a far better product than Wanted, with better visuals and greater coherence to the characters, story and action.
If you haven't guessed yet, I really didn't enjoy Wanted at all and would advise anyone thinking about watching it to give it a miss - or at best have it on in the background while doing something else. This film doesn't deserve your full attention and will almost certainly convince you of that by itself well before the end rolls around.
Wanted is the cinematic equivalent of a poor fast food meal - neither satisfying nor leaving you wanting more. It's more enjoyable to spend the running time thinking up connections to other movies than to pay attention to the story, where it only really starts at the halfway point and has characters that change completely when the script requires rather than because it makes sense.