As visually exciting as this movie can be, it also stumbles through some familiarity as we endure the rebirth of one Welsey Gibson, the main character in one of the latest graphic novel-turned-movie extravaganza. Bolstered by a sexy cast and some ridiculously crazy action sequences, Wanted manages to hit a lot of the right notes along the way, but, it also falls into a couple familiar traps, too. But, despite both the pros and cons of this movie, is it one worth checking out? Well, we’ll get into that once we get the synopsis out of the way, so let’s go!
Wesley’s (James McAvoy) life is over – his pathetic, old one, anyway… Fortunately, it is all because of a girl. Enter sizzling-hot Fox (Angelina Jolie), who crashes into his life and introduces him to the Fraternity, a secret society of assassins, lead by the mysterious Sloan (Morgan Freeman). Seems Wes’s long-lost father was killed while working for the Fraternity and Wes has been selected to target the rogue member who murdered him. But before he can complete his assignment, Wes must first uncover the dark secrets behind the Fraternity in order to determine his own destiny. Wrapping in stunning visuals, Wanted will grab onto you and never let you go!
So, to jump right to it, Wanted is a visual stunner. I could rarely take my eyes of the movie, as even the most mundane of scenes were just visually appealing. Whether it’s Gibson wasting his life away in a cubicle, or he and Fox dashing down the street, every single scene had something pleasing to the eye. Thankfully, the film runs with the visual absurdity, sometimes coming across as absolutely ridiculous at times, and makes it work. In-fact, the first third of the movie is pretty hilarious, but it does loose some of its’ humor toward the end, even as the film’s visuals get increasing out of control. The L-train sequence alone, and what follows afterward, just ups the already enhanced crazed visuals of Wanted.
Now, Wanted is by no means intelligent film-making, not will it ever be confused with some of the greatest films of our time. But it is an adrenaline-fueled action fest that just doesn’t hold back. In-fact, the movie seems to come across as almost an animated movie, applying the logics of a the Looney Tunes universe to the real world, resulting in an obscene amount of stunts and exquisite action-themed eye candy that, at times, is both illogical and mesmerizing.
I feel that I should note that Wanted, particularly the first third of the movie, is absolutely hilarious. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed as hard at someone saying “I’m sorry” than I have in this film. And that’s a gag that repeats throughout the movie, culminating in a hilarious sequence where, as Gibson is strapped into an overturned car flipping over another, pointing a gun out of his sunroof pointed toward his target, all he can say it “I’m sorry” as he pulls the trigger. No big action quip or one-liner, just “I’m sorry.” There’s a lot more humor to it, a lot of brash and blunt and, at most times, mean-spirited, but it works for the movie. When the main protagonist hates his life, you can’t expect the humor to be update.
The movie does stall as it hits its second act. The humor seems to deplete some as Gibson, upon learning of his gun-toting heritage, becomes increasingly serious and, with that, the movie takes the same tone, slowly evolving the film into an over-plotted straight-faced actioner. Thankfully the film doesn’t forget its roots and manages to wink at the viewer, especially during the rather twisted and over-the-top gunfest finale. Director Timur Bekmambetov manages to shape the craziest aspects of this world, of The Fraternity that Gibson finds himself in, all using his unique visual style, a style that helps keep the movie convincing regardless of how ridiculous it actually is. There is some absolutely ridiculous things in here, like the kill-assignment-spewing “Loom of Fate,” which would be so absolutely laughably ridiculous in any other movie, but it Bekmambetov makes it work here.
The acting is solid all around, the story is good but, sadly, as the movie chugs along, the plot becomes needlessly complicated and loses some of its humor along the way. Despite the film losing a bit of its’ kick in the second and third act, the visual style of the film makes it easy to overlook, particularly as each action sequence seems to build upon the previous one. It’s just a visual trip and just a hell of a great time. Wanted is one of those films that you’ll be unable to take your eyes off, wondering just how they’re going to top themselves next (especially after the L Train sequence). The movie starts out strong and loses some steam along the way, but it does leave a good impression overall thanks to the crazy scenery and over-the-top attitude. Get ready to pump your fist in the air and laugh out loud, Wanted comes Highly Recommended.
One of the big hits of the summer for the studio, Universal Home Entertainment has given Wanted a standard two-disc release. The packaging is the standard two-disc Amaray case, hid under a nice cardboard slipcase. The audio and video is exactly really excellent, probably one of the best DVD transfers I’ve seen in the past while. The video is crisp and clear, helping the visuals really pop off the screen. And to match those visuals, we have a great ear-crunching sound mix that’s as perfect as can be. No mistakes are detectable in either the video or audio transfer, so kudos to Universal Home Entertainment for giving Wanted a great overall transfer.
The extras are good, but not great. The extras include a nice extended scene involving Wesley’s first attempt at handling a gun, and it runs roughly two minutes. After that is a twenty-minute featurette called “Cast and Characters,” which provides a little bit of production info, but not much. After that is the short “Stunts on the L Train” featurette, looking at the film’s set piece. Next up is “Special Effects: The Art of the Impossible,” a featurette that goes through the film’s practical and onset wizardry, resulting in some very neat behind-the-scenes footage. “Groundbreaking Visual Effects: From Imagination to Execution,” looks at the visual effects and the crew behind them. “The Origins of Wanted: Bringing the Graphic Novel to Life” follows, and, predictably, it looks at the comic book and the creator Mark Millar. Interesting stuff for fans of the comic and Millar’s work. “Through the Eyes of Visionary Director Timur Bekmambetov” is next, and is essentially a ten minute featurette about Bekmambetov’s inventive work on the film.
The extra features wrap up with some motion comics, a music video, and an extended promotional piece for the Wanted video game. As usual, no trailers were included.
So, the bonus features are good, but could be better, I find. It seems like studios are getting used to giving us the standard two-disc special edition release that, well, doesn’t contain a lot of special features. The special features on this disc add up to roughly 90 minutes in total, and, personally, I feel that there should be more here. Universal Home Entertainment did a really nice job with what they put on, even if some was the standard EPK stuff, but a good job. Regardless, Universal’s last comic book-related release Hellboy got a massive documentary on the second disc. Why doesn’t this have one? A big summer hit like Wanted should have more.
Before I go further, I just want to note that Universal Home Entertainment also released Wanted in a single-disc release void of any special features. If you’re looking to pick up Wanted on DVD, the two-disc edition is the way to go, even though there should be more bonus content included.
Overall, Wanted is a twisted and fun movie, one that will definitely rock your DVD system. While it doesn’t exactly offer anything new in the story department, the visuals are really something to behalf here and, thanks to the crisp video transfer, everything is crystal clear here! While the movie undoubtedly looks better on Blu-ray, if you’re picking up the DVD, then you should be pleasantly surprised here. The content could be more thorough, but what we get isn’t anything to sneeze at. If you liked the film’s visual style, than the bonus features should be of interest. I am curious to see how many people will discover the film’s comic book roots when scouring through the bonus features here, especially since said roots were barely touched upon during the film’s theatrical promotion. Wanted is a visual stunner of a film that will tickle your funny-bone while absolutely blowing you away with its’ stunning and over-the-top visuals. It goes without saying that Wanted: 2-Disc Special Edition comes Highly Recommended.
Wanted hits Blu-ray and single-disc and two-disc DVD on December 2nd, 2008.