You might recognize a special guest in today's comic as none other than Gordon McAlpin from Multiplex. Gordon and I saw Wanted last Saturday while we were both attending Wizard World Chicago. We missed out on hanging with the fabulous Joe Dunn and the rest of the Digital Pimp crew because they decided to go into downtown Chicago for dinner that night. The joke was on them, though. Because they couldn't find a theater showing Wanted! Sorry, guys!
Gordon and I saw Wanted at the palatial Muvico 18 in Rosemont - a theater suggested to us by one of our listeners during The Triple Feature broadcast a few weeks ago. This listener swore up and down about how great the theater was and expressed shock that we had never heard of it before. We were befuddled as to what he could be talking about. For years we've been going to this dirtball theater one town over. It was unimpressive, but it met our needs.
Pulling into Rosemont on Thursday, however, my questions were answered. From the interstate I could see the Muvico 18. You couldn't miss it! The thing was huge like the Roman coliseum. I literally shouted an expletive as I took the exit toward the hotel and convention center, I was so shocked. To have a movie theater of this grandeur within walking distance? Priceless!
As for the movie we went to see - Wanted - it was a visceral thrill. I walked out of that movie so nerved up, I felt like punching a cop and sodomizing a grizzly bear. Seriously. There hasn't been a movie to push my repressed white guy angst button like this since Fight Club.
A lot of critics have been making note of Wanted's knuckle-dragging brutality. But for me, that's a selling point. I'm so sick of action movies pulling back, failing to take risks or show us anything that isn't a digital bath of computer generated effects.
While there are more than enough dumb CG moments in Wanted, the film also delivers real grit courtesy of director Timur Bekmambetov. Some people call Bekmambetov the Russian Michael Bay and you can see where they draw the comparison with their "eat the action" lensing. But Bekmambetov is doing stuff in Wanted that Bay wouldn't touch with a ten foot pole - for fear of offending his sponsors. Wanted is a huge calling card for Bekmambetov. You'll see his name more often. Trust me.
As for the plot of the film, I liked it - even though it's tale of a corporate nobody transforming into a super-powered, gun-slinging bad-ass pretty much steals from The Matrix wholesale. The big difference is tone. Whereas The Matrix insisted you could change your life if you were brave enough to fly, Wanted tells you to shut up, quit crying and get on with it already.
Despite being a big comic book fan, I never read the original graphic novel on which the movie was based. I've been told it takes some real liberties with the plot. Apparently, in the book, it's a secret organization of super-villains, not righteous assassins at the center of the tale. Like I said, having not read it, I can't express any outrage over the changes. But I would say that they certainly created something unique for the movie. Especially with The Loom of Fate - a concept that says that fate wants certain people dead and these assassins are only expressing fate's will.
That said, after seeing the film, I would love to read the original books. They sound great.
Regarding the performances, I have a new found respect for James MacAvoy - and actor who I've always recognized for his talent, but one I had come to resent for his pretty boy status. After Atonement, he was on deck to become the next Colin Firth, or something. You know, the charming Brit your girlfriend won't shut up about.
I think MacAvoy tries a little too hard with his American accent and his first act narration is distracting, but his transformation from an anxiety-ridden weenie into a gun totting bad-ass is completely believable and mesmerizing to watch.
Angelina Jolie is interesting to look at, but her character doesn't have a lot to do, it seems. Still, I prefer Jolie kicking ass and taking names here like she does in Mr. and Mrs. Smith any day over the earnest, quasi-political Jolie of A Mighty Heart.
Morgan Freeman turns in his two millionth turn as a wise old man shepherding a confused white guy, but he's still a gravitational force and you'll be hooting and hollering at his delivery of a certain line in particular. I wouldn't dare spoil it here.
All things said and done, I had a blast with Wanted and the movie stayed with me for a long time. I question if it's kinetic spirit will hold up over repeat viewings or not - especially now that I know all of its tricks. But I'm looking forward to finding out when it comes out on DVD in the future.
That's it for me. Be sure to check back on Friday. There will be a new comic here despite the 4th of July holiday.
See you then!