Sunday, 29 June 2008

Wanted: a better script

Another day, another blockbuster. This was another one that wasn't really on my radar until the palm moisteningly exciting trailer which made promise of bullet curving, outrageous driving and mysterious assassin societies operating on the fringes of the normal world. In this sense, the film delivers on its promises as all of these aspects are present and correct. But sadly, as with previous films Nightwatch and Daywatch, while at times visually stunning, Bekmambentov has delivered a movie that ultimately sacrifices content at the altar of style.

Wesley Gibson (McAvoy) is the typical everyman loser. Beaten down by the crushing weight of the world, he lives the regular schnook existence in a tedious office job with an oafish bullying boss, and a girlfriend who is openly shagging his supposed best friend. Maybe he should start a blog? His painfully unrewarding existence is somewhat up-heaved by the arrival of Fox (Jolie), the smirking skinny beauty who informs him that the Dad he had thought dead from his childhood was actually one of the world's greatest assassins and was in fact killed in the opening sequence. After a rescue shootout (Gibson is now it seems the next target of the patricidal maniac) and a ridiculous escape drive, Jolie introduces him to the Fraternity, a troupe of assassins descended from an ancient sect of weavers. That's right. Headed by a paternal Morgan Freeman, Gibson is shown that what he had mistaken for panic attacks are in fact the manifestation of his super human powers of reaction and skill possessed only by a handful of people that allows him to shoot the wings off flies. Which he does.

Gibson is understandably perturbed, but given the chance to replace his old life for this new one of guns, cars and sexy ladies, he takes all of five minutes to dump his bird, give his boss a telling off, and crack his best bud round the face with a keyboard. Finding his bank account full of his dead dad's money helps too. And so he signs up with the fraternity who set about training him up at their top secret textile factory, which consists of getting beaten and sliced up by one of the caricature assassins while Jolie looks on smugly. But its ok, because they also have waxy baths that can heal you up quick smart, and visits to these magical tubs become a regular occurrence. When not being brutalised by the gang, Gibson fill his days swotting up on past assassinations or being taught how to "curve the bullet" the trademark shot of the fraternity that, as well as allowing impossible shots to be made, also looks impossibly cool. Freeman also finds time to introduce him to the "Loom of Fate" a mammothly intricate construction, which it turns out is the one giving out instructions on who the gang whack next via its mystical weavings, and Gibson sets about working towards his target, the father murdering Cross via a number of lesser hits and running about on top of trains. Suddenly an expert on all things assassin, Gibson sets off to track down Terrence Stamp's bullet maker and find Cross in the process, which he duly does, and learns more about his and his father's past than he hoped for.

What follows is typical of Bekmambentov. The action here is impressive, not to mention sadistically violent, and there are some nice moments that show a hint of tongue in cheek, but for the most part it is deadly serious and so achingly self conscious that it detracts from the enjoyment. It so badly wants to capture the effortless cool of films like The Matrix or Blade that it never really shows us anything original, instead rehashing ideas and concepts we've seen a million times before in films and computer games, while the ideas on display that are original are just not up to snuff (exploding rats?). Indeed, without a decent sci-fi or mythology to back it up (the comic book origin is largely ignored), the superhuman actions of the characters, and concepts like healing tanks and looms of fate just sound plain silly. As indeed is the whole plot, with its unwelcome goodie/baddie switcharoo that leads to some uncomfortable swearing from Morgan Freeman. The man should not use the phrase "somebody shoot this mothefucker." Its wrong. The whole premise of said switcharoo and resultant denouement make absolutely no sense if you ponder them closely, and herein lies Wanted's main problem. It's stupid.

As you may know, I'm not one to sneer at a far fetched plot, but I do ask that they are believable according to the terms of their own mythologies, and that their characters behave according to their, well, character. And here Wanted is severely lacking. The script is full of yawning holes that make little or no sense that all builds to a climax that leaves the viewer wholly unsatisfied. The performances are all decent, although McAvoy hasn't quite nailed the accent, but no amount of straining can save such daft shenanigans. Even the "normal" opening scenes don't quite ring true, the bullying boss character for example is such a ham fisted piece of character writing that alarm bells of ludicrousness are ringing before anyone's even done a flip in a sportscar. While many of the set pieces are beautifully executed (sorry), a sequence on a train especially so, much of it is so contrived as to undermine how good it all looks. The final "shot" is a good case in point. Yes its very stylish, the way the bullet slowmos backwards through that forehead and whizzes back to it's point of origin via lots of amusing familiar faces and near misses, but it doesn't make a lot of sense does it? Is the (actual) victim so stupid as to assume he has the right target because it looks a bit like him from behind? How exactly was he lured to that particular"X"? Was it a metaphorical visit the bullet takes to all those other persecutors? Or was it just a cool idea you wanted to re-use in a way you thought would nicely tie up the film even if it didn't really make sense? No, it's just all too daft to be truly enjoyable. If you like your action brainless and pretty Wanted is worth a look, but if you were expecting a coherent super assassin origin story you'll be disappointed. What a shame.

Verdict: 2/5
All mouth no trousers


Carol said...

Very nicely done. I love your writing, it's a nice blend of fact and smartass :) I was thinking of taking in this movie at the theater, but now I think I'll wait for the dvd.

redchair said...

I don't think your blog is boring. It's actaully fun. And long? You only write a paragraph?

If you want more visitors, you need to visit other blogs. (It's that simple) Look up blogs that are in the same genre as yours. You'll get visitors.

Munial said...

Say, thanks for the feedback and advice.. did you find the rest of the review Red? I have learned how to make expanded posts :)


I went to see Indiana Jones the other day and the script wasn't particularly inspiring. Still, it was enjoyable.
Nice blog, it's nicely done. Thanks for visiting mine.