“Shut the FUCK up!” Those are the words of Wesley Gibson, the formerly pathetic 25-year-old Account Manager, when he takes control and steers his life in a somewhat surprising direction.
Becoming an assassin of fate isn’t a line of work I’d hope anyone reading this would go for, and I suppose not really one he has much choice in making. But fair play to the man, down on his luck, Gibson embarks on his Jolie-ogling, Freeman-following new line of work with aplomb.
And who could ever have thought that James McAvoy, a man in line to play the first famous halfling in The Hobbit, could wield firearms with the skill of a Woo-fuelled ninja? Yes, it’s Night/Daywatch’s Timur Bekmambetov (and his skill burns flare-like) who’s prodding people and pictures into place, but the effect is as crucial and thrilling as, well, perhaps not Woo, but, let’s say, stamping in a pool of balloons.
In short, McAvoy becomes what we in South London would phonetically phrase as ‘a ledge’ (short for legend), the type of self-radiating man any twenty-something guy wants to be, the guy you’d believe Angelina Jolie could fall for.
And yet, to both his and Bekmambetov’s credit, McAvoy still manages to maintain a camaraderie with his comrades while playing the lead role in a gratuitous action flick through passing wisps of humour and perfectly pitched alpha-male arrogance.
When I say comrades here, I literally mean those sitting comfortably. Those who no doubt see a tiny part of themselves, or a tiny part of their own existentialist crises in his occasional panic attacks, claustrophobia, droning, lonesome life, backstabbing bitch (or bastard) of a partner, scumbag best friend who needs a serious amount of sense knocked into him, and have a penchant for reddening their finances.
Take me, for example. I’m 24, and yes I like my job, I may be on the Christmas card list of my local branch manager (not good) but have I ever dreamed of driving a fast car with Angelina Jolie laid out on the bonnet firing back past me, and reporting to Morgan Freeman? What’s the phrase I’m looking for? Hell fucking yes I have. Jesus Christ, Gibson is essentially living the dream.
It’s not all counting sheep, slick shooting and death-defying positives though, neither for the film nor for Gibson. Like a menu in a spin (chicken or fish? Chicken or fiiiiiiishh?!) Wanted desperately aches to address our daily confidence issues, but also reserves the room for mind-bending physics and action in nothing less than unhealthy lashings.
The movie flicks between the two competently in its timeframe, but carries only 90% of the desired effects off. The point is, Wanted largely works, it has some plotted right angles you may lap up, but it’s not completely cohesive, perhaps owing to an unusual leading man and a plot not completely fitted to the running time.
Gibson’s training, as a prime example of the last point, is remarkably quick, and forms him into a deadly weapon in the space it would take me to work out whether the safety was on.
Yet these are minor points in a film which essentially makes any right-thinking viewer want to leave the viewing and bellow “I’M GODDAM JOHN/JOAN SMITH AND THE WORLD BETTER BE READY!”
It’s no classic but in the end it’s feel-good, fast, it has Jolie playing (I’d like to think) herself and Freeman supported with an agreeable crew. And thanks the rock gods, it has the meanest guitar riff stapled to its spine. “Sod it,” you may think, “I’m off to kickstart my life.” But first, see this film.