Sunday, 6 July 2008

2008 Movie Record Chart -- Wanted

Okay, new feature.

I've got a cineworld card, and so do one or two of my closest friends, which means that we see a lot of movies every month. It's an easy and reasonably cost-effective social thing, so... basically what I'm saying is that I see a lot of shitty movies that I otherwise wouldn't watch because of this card.

(Does this make it sound like a good thing or a bad thing? I'm not sure.)

In order to better keep track of what I'm seeing, I'm going to start keeping a record of it on this blog. Since this could get pretty boring pretty quickly, I'm going to evaluate each movie as I go, using a series of questions/categories unless the movie is just too good to be dealt with in this way.

(And yeah, I'm kinda riffing on The Face Knife's movie review chart here, but not too heavily -- my categories are way less specific and I'm going for a slightly less snarky tone.)

Alright then. Here we go:

Title: Wanted

Key Crew: Timur Bekmambetov (director of Night Watch, Day Watch), Angelina Jolie, Morgan Freeman, James McAvoy.

What’s it about? Fight Club meets the Matrix, only less subtle than either. Office drone discovers that his dad was part of a fraternity of assassins, gets drawn into that world after his father's death, etc. Regular beatings and bloody revelations ensue, plus Angelina Jolie pouts and fires guns and stuff.

Comic Book? Yeah, it’s an adaptation of the Mark Millar and J.G. Jones comic that asked the question “What if supervillains ruled the world and you were actually one of them?The answer involved the "you" of the question perfoming acts of hideous violence, with the intent being to hook the reader on the hero’s journey before making them aware of the fact that they’ve been sold a load of hateful crap.

Sequel? Nah, nor does it really set itself up for one. That said, I’m already hearing talk that a sequel is in production, so what the fuck do I know? People dig making money, I guess -- no big news there...

The good: The kicking, the shooting, one or two explosions, an ok-ish car chase. Some freaky “man slowing down time/man having panic attack” visuals, though they’re mostly used to show how stressed James McAvoy gets when his Totally Fat Boss Lady shouts at him.

The bad: The story, which largely ditches the nastiness of the comic (meanness to Fat Boss Ladies aside, and even that's a softening of the character's latent racism in the comic). And... I didn’t really think the comic worked, since it overplayed its excesses to the extent that it was hard to get caught up in. Which should mean that I like the move version more, but it seems really cynical and generic without those hateful flourishes. Not that the comic wasn’t cynical (it visually cast Eminem and Halle Berry in the roles McAvoy and Jolie ended up playing), but for all its faults it still seemed more ambitious than this dull approximation. Plus, even when something exciting happens in the movie, it only reminds you of either the Matrix or Bekmambetov’s other work.

Daddy issues? Oh hell yes! Watered down Fight Club style daddy-angst leads to revenge, confusions, gunfights and then more revenge.

Misogyny? Of the standard Hollywood “female characters are irritating shrews/cheating bitches/bronzed lust objects” variety. I mean, Angelina Jolie is given precisely one bit of character history, but... depressing as that is, it’s one more bit of characterisation than many other movies of this genre would give her.

Does it bring the explodo? Yeah, a bit. Through a rat-based demolition program (no joke). More exciting than any of the explosions, however, is the repeated motif of people flying through glass windows in slow motion, so that you can really take in the fractured shards of glass that covers their faces. Yeah, I know that the bit in Day Watch where that guy crashes through one sign and out of another was cooler, but what can you do?

Romantic reconciliations? If meekly snogging Angelina Jolie in front of your cheating girlfriend counts, then yeah, sure.

Stupidest idea: The loom of fate was pretty goofy, but it goes with the territory I suppose. As the chalk of destiny is to Day Watch, the loom of fate is to Wanted.

Kicks to the nuts? I don't think so. If there were any, they didn't manage to stand out in the middle of all that gunplay.

The verdict: If escaping from your mundane life and into a world of generic action movie bollocks appeals, then this is the film for you.

Further reading: For a more involved discussion of the Wanted comic, check out Plok's post on the racial element of the story and Sean Witzke's defense of the book.


liamk said...


We'll talk Wanted this Thursday.

sean witzke said...

Haddock anywhere below 10 is a fucking travesty.

David said...

I was always more of an Asterix man, but yeah.

Also: I'm allergic to Spawn, so he can get to fuck.

Never been too big on Venom either, but I'm not too much of a Spider-Man freak so what do I know?

In general, it's an okay list -- kind predictable, if slightly better researched than some (Scott Pilgrim's a good guy to have in there, and there are some fairly random entires like Deadpool that I didn't see coming).

It has got me thinking about modern comics creators, and how at least two of the very best (Grant Morrison and Alan Moore) are arguably better at re-imagining existing concepts than coming up with iconic original characters... don't know where to go with that thought, but there's something there.