Tuesday, August 12, 2008

WANTED MOVIE: After the smoke has all cleared.

Well, well. After all the smoke has cleared it seems that the movie Wanted starring Angelina Jolie and James McAvoy was wanted after all. I admit I was among those naysayers who feared that by appearing to stray quite far from the source material that the movie Wanted would be a disappointment for fans of the original comic mini-series.

It turns out that the people responsible for Wanted were able to make a decently entertaining Summer movie after all. True this was not the Wanted comic book series, but if you can look beyond that fact than you are likely to be entertained by this film - reason being that fans of the original book appreciate the genre that influences the movie's storyline.

The casting actually was quite good: James McAvoy was very very well cast as the film's anti-hero, bringing a believable vulnerability to the lead role. He pulled off the low esteem loser role quite convincingly. He didn't annoy: he garnered my sympathy as he went about his personal transformation from nebbish loser to extremely empowered individual.

Jolie was also servicable in her role as the mentor / skills coach to McAvoy. Her role was limited in its scope since her character is pretty much just a level above the predictable stereotype of the 'tough female with a gun' that is prevailent in many films today. Still, Jolie ends up being more than just eye candy in the role which is pretty much a success in itself for this kind of film.

Morgan Freeman was pretty good, but then again isn't he guilty of being the most consistent actor in Hollywood today - an incredibly reliable actor who probably gets payed less than you would think per role? As the head of operations to the society of assassins Freeman portrays the complexity of character neccessary to pull off the part.

Terrance Stamp also has a minor part in the film. I always enjoy him in anything he is in so there is another minor bonus.

Plotwise, Wanted was pretty intriguing. There were some complicated plot angles to develop during the movie for it to deliver its payoff and they were pretty much all set up without rushing things too much. I didn't get the feeling that too much was cut from the film so that it ended up being choppy. There was a decent flow to the plot. There were also some intriguing plot twists in the final third of the film. To be honest, I did predict the general outcome of the movie - it was just the finer details of the movie's finale that came as a pleasant surprise to me.

The visual effects of the film were in a word: stunning. The gunplay and car chase sequences throughout were all really eye-catching. Is it too gushing to say that some of these scenes were actually mesmerizing? It is hard for an effects movie nowadays to avoid the label of being at least somewhat Matrix inspired and Wanted is no different; many of the gunplay scenes are reminiscent of the more innovative techniques of the Matrix movies. This isn't necessarily a bad thing though - its not as if anyone would think they are stealing technique as much as acknowledging the more effective way of presenting the action in a certain scene. Too many filmmakers have made use of the Matrix trailblazing techniques for any one to be tarred and feathered more than any other.

Another note of interest: I saw this in a theater on july 21st, almost a month after its initial release date, and only a few days after the Dark Knight was released. True both were playing in the same theater and maybe a number of patrons sitting with me were there only because they were unable to get tickets for the constantly sold out Batman sequel, but still, there were quite a few people there to see Wanted. I was actually surprised that on a Monday - in the early afternoon to boot - that I was sitting in a two thirds full theater. that says something about word of mouth and the fact that this movie has been benefiting from some decent reviews. I admit that I was initially in no hurry to go and see this one but that at the same time I was curious about the positive reviews it was garnering. Glad I finally decided to make the trip downtown to see this one.

The comicbook's creator, Mark Millar, was also a credited consultant for the movie (can you say good PR move to curry the favour of the comicbook fans out there?) and worked on set to help tweak the dialogue for some of the scenes. He has come out and publicly said that the studio had expressed interest in involving him in a Wanted movie sequel if the film did well enough at the box office. He thinks that any future Wanted outings might be a chance to address some aspects of the mini-series that were dropped from the script of this first one.

All things considered, I would look forward to seeing the filmmakers reload their weapons and taking careful aim at a sequel...