Wanted Timur Bekmambetov

Wanted Timur Bekmambetov
Wanted, a hopped-up thriller from the most successful Russian action film director ever, is better than the sum of its borrowed parts, but that doesn’t put it on the same level of greatness as its inspirations.

Reluctant hero Wesley Gibson is an angry office drone (Fight Club without the social or political underpinnings) who’s recruited into an unknown secret society of assassins called the Fraternity; they kill potential evil-doers before the evil gets done, thus keeping the universe balanced, etc. (Insert random comics/sci-fi influence blueprint here.)

Stentorian Morgan Freeman heads this "ancient order” (aren’t they all?) and with his team of bad-asses (headed in full tough sexpot flight by Angelina Jolie), he trains Wesley in the ways of getting pounded in the face and bending bullets through the air to accomplish the least likely assassinations since L.H. Oswald.

Along the way, Bekmambetov amps up the hyper-stylised, slo-mo CGI action beats in much the same ways he did in his Russian films Night Watch and Day Watch, while scribes Michael Brandt and Derek Haas do everything they can to take Wanted far from its graphic novel roots, leaving little more than the title and the team of assassins.

Though it lacks pretty much any original thought, Wanted is a competently made knock-off designed to appeal to Red Bull chugging young men who take a marketing fed line like, "what the fuck have you done with your life?” and adopt it as a personal philosophy in the form of a T-shirt slogan.

To that end, everyone plays along and has a good time: Jolie gives her pouty lipped all, the action is pumped to physics-defying levels and most surprisingly, James McAvoy (who’s been doing excellent dramatic work in the likes of The Last King of Scotland and Atonement) proves himself more than capable as a thinking man’s action hero.

Not that there’s any thinking going on here — what kind of T-shirt philosophy would that be? (Universal)