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Timur Bekmambetov
James McAvoy, Morgan Freeman, Angelina Jolie, Terence Stamp, Thomas Kretschmann, Common, Kristen Hager, Marc Warren, David O'Hara
Writing Credits:
Chris Morgan, Michael Brandt (and story), Derek Haas (and story), Mark Millar (comic book series), J.G. Jones (comic book series)

Choose your destiny.

Wesley's (James McAvoy) life is over - his pathetic old one, anyway, and it's all because of a girl. Sizzling-hot Fox (Angelina Jolie) crashes into his life, introducing him to The Fraternity, a secret society of assassins led by the enigmatic Sloan (Morgan Freeman). Wes soon learns that his long-lost father was killed while working for The Fraternity and Wes has been selected to target the rogue member who murdered his father. But, before he can complete this assignment and determine his own destiny, Wes must first uncover the dark secrets behind The Fraternity.

Box Office:
$75 million.
Opening Weekend
$50.927 million on 3175 screens.
Domestic Gross
$134.294 million.

Rated R

Widescreen 2.35:1/16x9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English DVS 2.0
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 110 min.
Price: $34.98
Release Date: 12/2/2008

• Extended Scene
• “Cast and Characters” Featurette
• “Stunts on the L Train” Featurette
• “Special Effects: The Art of the Impossible” Featurette
• “Groundbreaking Visual Effects: From Imagination to Execution” Featurette
• “The Origins of Wanted: Bringing the Graphic Novel to Life” Featurette
• “Through the Eyes of Director Timur Bekmamvetov” Featurette
• “Wanted: Motion Comics”
• “The Little Things” Music Video Mash-Up
• “The Making of Wanted: The Game” Featurette


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Harman/Kardon DPR 2005 7.1 Channel Receiver; Toshiba A-30 HD-DVD/1080p Upconverting DVD Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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Wanted: Special Edition (2008)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 9, 2008)

Just three years ago, James McAvoy’s biggest impact on movies came from his role as the faun Mr. Tumnus in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Fast-forward a short period and he’s now on the verge of becoming a leading man and a star. 2006’s Last King of Scotland and 2007’s Atonement put him in dramatic Oscar-nominated fare, but McAvoy branches out with 2008’s loud action spectacular Wanted.

McAvoy plays Wesley Gibson, a true sad sack. He toils at a miserable office job while his best friend Barry (Chris Pratt) bangs his nagging girlfriend Cathy (Kristen Hager) behind his back. Matters take an enormous change when he encounters a mysterious babe named Fox (Angelina Jolie) at the pharmacy. She tells him that his father was a world-class assassin who just got murdered – and whose killer (Thomas Kretschmann) has Wesley in his sights.

Fox rescues Wesley from this situation and exposes him to the reality of his history. Wesley thinks he suffers from panic attacks, but it turns out he actually has superhuman perceptual skills that simply overwhelm him. He learns that his dad was part of an ancient group of assassins called The Fraternity and that he needs training to join their ranks.

Which he does. Wesley enters into a brutal regimen led by Fox and also learns about his murky history along the way. We follow his path along with a mix of snarls and complications.

When I saw Wanted theatrically, it would be an understatement to say that it left me unimpressed. To me, it represented pretty much everything wrong with action movies. I love the genre but not when it displays the level of idiocy found in Wanted.

Did my second viewing of Wanted change my mind? No. Granted, I didn’t go through the same visceral sense of irritation and disgust; when you know something stinks, it becomes difficult to relive that initial feeling of disdain. That didn’t make my second screening enjoyable, though, as all the film’s flaws remained on display – and I couldn’t find any previously undiscovered positives.

First of all, Wanted displays a relentlessly derivative experience. I liked it better when it was called The Matrix. We see the thumbprint of that iconic hit all over Wanted, as it nearly amounts to a remake. Yes, I realize that Wanted drops all the sci-fi trappings and philosophical mumbo-jumbo found in the earlier flick, but it still comes across as a very close cousin.

That goes for nearly every aspect of the film. Both feature cubicle drones who learn that they possess fantastic abilities when a rockin’ babe yanks them out of their nowhere existences. Both deal with somber African-American mentors. And so on.

I will admit that the two films don’t offer very similar plots. The Matrix goes down a much more ambitious path and posits its hero as a Christ-like figure. On the other hand, Wanted mostly deals with revenge; though it tosses out twists and turns, it doesn’t add up to a whole lot more than that.

And I don’t regard that as a bad thing. While I have many complaints about Wanted, the story isn’t one of them. No, it never proves particularly involving or dynamic, but it’s perfectly adequate, even if it does take a serious Empire Strikes Back move along the way.

Too bad so many other problems arise, many of which stem from the film’s sheer stupidity. Instead of Wanted, they should have named it You Know What Would Be Cool?, because that's all it is: a random compilation of moments some 14-year-old thought would look awesome!!!

Loud, stupid and annoying, I was close to bailing on this one after 15 minutes, but I stayed because I never give up on movies. I hoped it'd get better, but it didn't. Wanted remained thoroughly idiotic and obnoxious.

I knew I was in trouble within the film’s first five minutes or so. We see a character leap through a window, and as he soars through the sky in slow motion, the shards of glass cling to his face.

That scene may act as a litmus test to determine whether or not you can stand Wanted. If you think this showy piece of action, then you’ll likely enjoy the movie’s over the top material. If you’re like me and you think the “shards of glass” sequence is nothing more than slick visuals without any other inspiration or purpose, you’ll probably hate the experience.

Matters sure don’t improve from there. I get the feeling director Timur Bekmambetov adored the “bullet time” footage from The Matrix and figured he’d like to base a movie on that technique. He certainly does pour on the slo-mo action here, as it seems unavoidable.

Didn’t “bullet time” get tiresome around 2001 or so? Cripes, I think it felt played out by the time Charlie’s Angels hit the screen in 2000. The method hasn’t somehow improved with age; it worked great for The Matrix but now comes across as cheesy and lame.

I think McAvoy has talent, but you won’t figure that out from his performance here. He sports an awful attempt at an American accent and never quite invests in his character. Wesley never seems convincing; whether as a neurotic office worker or as a super-assassin, McAvoy fails to connect with the part.

Jolie has her bad-ass routine down to a science, but that’s not enough to make Fox more than a one-dimensional cartoon. She nearly sleepwalks through the part, which is more than I can say for Morgan Freeman as the Fraternity’s leader. He seems so disinterested in the film that you can almost hear him snore.

There’s nothing wrong with the basic story, characters or theme of Wanted. All of the problems stem from its sheer stupidity and its obsession with ridiculously stylized visuals. This must be one of the most annoying flicks to hit the screen in years.

The DVD Grades: Picture C+/ Audio A/ Bonus C

Wanted appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. The film featured a decent transfer that never quite excelled.

Sharpness seemed erratic. Most shots were reasonably crisp, but more than a few looked a little loose and soft. Some mild edge haloes exacerbated that problem and made definition inconsistent. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering appeared, and source flaws remained absent, though the movie seemed a bit grainy.

Colors tended to be a little muddy. Like most modern action flicks, Wanted featured a stylized palette; the hues varied from scene to scene and tended to reflect each sequence’s motif. I thought the tones were a bit on the heavy side and not terribly vivid. Some colors fare better than others, but overall, they were mediocre. Blacks appeared reasonably dark and tight, while shadows showed acceptable clarity. All of this added up to a “C+” for visuals.

On the other hand, the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Wanted proved wholly satisfying. The soundfield proved consistently active and involving. Quieter scenes present a good sense of place and atmosphere, while the action sequences open things up in a dynamic manner. Bullets and vehicles zoomed and jumped around the room, and the scenes placed us in the action. Surround usage was quite full, and the mix created a strong setting for the adventure.

Audio quality was always excellent. Speech appeared natural and concise, with no edginess or other issues. Music seemed rich and dynamic, and effects followed suit. Those elements were crisp and clear, and they showed terrific bass response. The audio earned a solid “A”.

Virtually all of the DVD’s extras appear on Disc Two. An Extended Scene lasts one minute, 59 seconds. It shows a little more of the sequence when Wesley shoots at cadavers. The addition just provides more comedy to the sequence; nothing more significant occurs.

Six featurettes follow. Cast and Characters goes for 19 minutes, 59 seconds as it includes comments from producer Marc Platt, director Timur Bekmamvetov, author Mark Millar, and actors Morgan Freeman, James McAvoy, Angelina Jolie, Common, Terence Stamp, Thomas Kretschmann, Dato Bakhtadze, Konstantin Khabensky and Marc Warren. The show offers basic character notes and a few remarks about performances and the shoot. Occasionally we learn something decent about the flick, but most of the time the show just reiterates plot and character facts that are already known to anyone who saw the movie.

Next comes the two-minute and 31-second Stunts on the L Train. It offers notes from McAvoy and stunt coordinator Nick Gillard as they discuss one big scene. We see a few interesting greenscreen shots, but we learn very little about this stunt sequence because the featurette is so brief.

With Special Effects: The Art of the Impossible, we get an eight-minute and 28-second piece that features Platt, Bekmamvetov, McAvoy, and special effects supervisor Dominic Tuohy. The show gets into practical effects used in the film. Like the prior featurettes, this one seems more focused on the film’s big-bam-boom than on facts, but it does allow for a few good basics to emerge. While it remains way too flashy and promotional, the behind the scenes bits help make it moderately worthwhile.

Groundbreaking Visual Effects: From Imagination to Execution goes for eight minutes, six seconds and provides remarks from Bekmamvetov, Platt, Khabensky, editor David Brenner, producer Jim Lemley, visual effects supervisors Craig Lyn, Stefen Fangmeier and Jon Farhat, senior visual effects supervisor Pavel Perepelkin, and visual effects producer Maria Karneeva. “Imagination” resembles “Art” except it concentrates on computer imagery instead of practical elements. It works in a similar manner; it conveys a mix of decent facts but remains more style than substance.

During the eight-minute and five-second The Origins of Wanted: Bringing the Graphic Novel to Life, we hear from Platt, Millar, Bekmamvetov, and screenwriters Michael Brandt and Derek Haas. We learn a bit about the adaptation of the source graphic novel and attempts to stay true to the source. When we hear from Millar, “Origins” proves quite interesting; he offers great notes about his influences and the comic’s roots. The rest of the piece feels more like filler, but there’s enough from Millar to make it worthwhile.

For some filmmaker info, we head to Through the Eyes of Director Timur Bekmamvetov. In this nine-minute and four-second piece, we get details from Bekmamvetov, McAvoy, Jolie, Freeman, Platt, Common, Lemley, Kretschmann, and Millar. Mostly the featurette just tells us that Bekmamvetov is brilliant. Once again, some interesting shots from the set help redeem the show somewhat, but the content remains forgettable.

Something different arrives with Wanted: Motion Comics. This area runs 13 minutes, 55 seconds as it shows segments from the graphic novel that inspired scenes in the movie. Why are these called “motion comics”? Because they offer moving, acted-out scenes, not just still frames. This becomes one of the DVD’s more compelling extras, as it’s fun to compare and contrast the graphic novel with the film. For instance, the comic’s Fox shows a heavy Halle Berry influence; she couldn’t look or feel much less like Jolie.

Next comes a music video mash-up. Danny Elfman’s “The Little Things” simply takes that tune and plays it over movie clips. Yawn!

For the final featurette, we go to the 10-minute and one-second The Making of Wanted: The Game. It features GRIN executive producer Emmanuel Marquez, GRIN CEO Bo Andersson, Universal game producer Nick Torchia, Universal executive game producer Pete Wanat, GRIN project manager Saul Gascon, GRIN creative director Pascal Luban, GRIN game designer Alvaro E. Vazquez, GRIN lead animator Jonathan Hodge, GRIN lead level designer Morten Sandholt, and GRIN game director Ulf Andersson. They provide some details about the game, but in essence, this acts as a long advertisement.

Like seemingly every other DVD these days, DVD Two also includes a digital copy of Wanted. This allows you to copy the film to your computer or to a portable digital device. If that suits you, go nuts!

DVD One opens with some ads. It includes promos for the Wanted: Weapons of Fate videogame, Burn After Reading, My Own Worst Enemy, Slap Shot 3: The Junior League, Blu-Ray Disc and The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior. No trailer for Wanted appears here.

Some Easter eggs appear on the disc. If you scout about, you’ll find cheat codes for the Wanted videogame. Also, DVD Two provides something called “Code of the Fraternity”. This tells you to enter an eight-digit binary code to access more goodies. I have no idea where you find this string of digits. Nothing I found on the disc gave me a clue, so either I missed something or you have to get the code elsewhere.

I hoped that Wanted would provide a clever, exciting action flick. Unfortunately, it cared only about its ridiculous visuals and never became anything more than a long, tedious ad for slow-motion techniques. The DVD presents erratic visuals along with excellent audio and some fluffy extras. Wanted truly stinks; avoid this absurd action flick.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.6 Stars Number of Votes: 15
2 3:
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main