Wanted is an easy movie to admire but a hard movie to actually like - unless you're an angry 19 year old stuck in a crap job, which is pretty much everyone who'll go see this - because while it does have more than its fair share of insanely exciting action sequences, pretty much everything here that isn't an insanely exciting action sequence is as dumb as dirt. Loosely based on a comic by Mark Millar and J.G. Jones (who should take no pride in the fact that everything apart from part of the opening assassination sequence and the schlub central character from their comic was considered not worth 'porting over to this extremely silly movie), the set-up is pure wish-fulfilment: Wesley (James McAvoy) is an a-grade loser with a fat pig boss and a best friend who's sleeping with his bitchy girlfriend. Then Fox (Angelina Jolie) turns up, tells him his father was the deadliest man in the world but now he's dead and Wes has to step up to the top slot before he too gets killed. Which is a worry because he's never even held a gun before, but under the guidance of Sloan (Morgan Freeman) and his gang of killers who get their orders from a loom - yes, a thing that weaves carpets is telling them who to kill - before long he's making bullets curve around corners with the best of them. The first half of this film is great. Wesley's crap life is laid on with a heavy hand but you can't really fail with a downtrodden guy who rises up, and Angelina Jolie (who really should stop trying to play actual human beings) has a lot of fun as a murderous fantasy brought to life. But clearly a film that's blatantly saying that learning to murder other people is the path to happiness can't actually take this idea anywhere coherent or logical. Saying murder is bad takes away all the fun, and saying it's good just might get some people believing you out in the real world. So once Wesley learns to be a man through murder the story fizzles out into a mass of double-crosses that don't really mean anything. Still, the action is often brilliant; seeing cars flip through the air in graceful arcs so the drivers can shoot other people never gets old.
Anthony Morris (this review appeared in Forte #433)