Thursday, June 26, 2008

Weapon of Mass Destruction

This summer, Angelina Jolie is going to kick some butt.

Screeeeeech! No, this isn’t 2005 or 2003 or 2001. It’s 2008, and the actress is co-starring alongside James McAvoy (Atonement) and Morgan Freeman in Wanted, an action movie from Russian-Kazakh director Timur Bekmambetov (Day Watch, Night Watch).

Wanted follows the rise to arguable greatness of Wesley Gibson (McAvoy), a paper-pusher ridden by anxiety trapped in a boring desk-job existence.

All Wesley wants is a life that means something. But Wesley is a sheep. His boss is constantly on his case, ditto his girlfriend, who is cheating on him with one his co-workers, and what is he doing about it? Nothing.

Do you know what whips a sheep into shape but good, though? A fox – a lady named Fox (Jolie) in this case.

Fox finds Wesley one night and tells him that his father, whom he thought dead, was in fact done in the day before, that he was one of the greatest assassins who ever lived, and that the man who killed his father is now after him.

And that’s how Fox recruits Wesley into the millennia-old Fraternity, a secret society that trains him to avenge daddy dearest by unlocking his dormant talents. See, he is one of the few people in the world who can shoot the wings off a fly. His father could, and so can he.

As our drone learns to develop lightning-quick reflexes and phenomenal agility, he also learns the ancient, unbreakable code that governs the so-called “weapons of fate” that make up the Fraternity: Kill one man. Save a thousand.

Slowly, though, Wesley realizes there is more to his deadly associates than previously revealed, especially when it comes to their enigmatic leader, Sloan (Freeman).

By the time he gets to the bottom of it – and Wanted delivers the ol’ switcheroo – you will have had just about enough of the movie’s ballistic, disconnect kinetics.

I enjoy a good shoot ’em up. In fact, I did when Shoot ’Em Up hit movie screens last year.

Wanted has elements of that Clive Owen vehicle, and of Crank, too. But unlike those movies, this one’s a little too dense, mythology-wise, for its own good.

As for McAvoy. Is it too soon for him to take on such a plum role? The Scot’s American accent is flawless, but is he just too unknown for audiences to connect with him? I say yes, but he pulls it off. This could be his breakthrough. (Sorry, Atonement.)

More off-putting, though, was how distractingly thin Jolie was during production. Girlfriend, you’re not a starletbot. You’re supposed to be the sexiest woman on the planet, the one for which several of your fellow H-town actresses would make the switch. Look the part.

Wanted is only so…if you really want it.

My Rating **1/2

Photo: Universal Pictures.

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