Monday, December 29, 2008


To appreciate Wanted (2008), one must first get past the opening scene, which violates in fundamental ways the basic laws of physics, especially ballistics. The scene is patently absurd and absolutely riveting. The entire film is absurd, and if you judge it by conventional standards there is no hope that you will enjoy it. A reviewer for Salon referred to it in a digest of the best films of 2008 as "unwatchable."

Wanted is eminently watchable. It is highly entertaining. The pace never flags. You just have to take it on its own terms.

A young accountant named Wesley Gibson (James McAvoy), bullied by his supervisor and often ridiculed by co-workers, receives word that his father, whom he never knew and who abandoned him seven days after his birth, has been killed. Later that day, a beautiful young woman taps his shoulder in a grocery store and informs him that he's about to be killed. Wanted takes off from there. The young woman is named Fox, gamely played by Angelina Jolie.

Gibson discovers that his father belonged to a thousand-year-old cult of assassins whose mission is to eliminate evil men and women and to keep the world "in balance." The cult's leader is named Sloan (Morgan Freeman—is there a film out there in which Freeman doesn't appear?). Gibson is recruited to the cult so that he can assassinate the man who killed his father—we're told that only Gibson will be able to do this.

Gibson undergoes a brutal training session and learns the ways of the assassins' cult. Of course, there are numerous complications, especially as the film drives towards its conclusion. I make no claim for this film as a work of art. But it was certainly fun to watch.

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