“Like it or not, Wanted pretty much slams you to the back of your chair from the outset and scarcely lets up for the duration,” writes Variety‘s Todd McCarthy in a just-up positive review. Get the implication? “Like it or not” means that if you’re afflicted with a modicum of taste you might have a difficult time with the beefy blunt fisticuffs of director Timur Bekmambetov.
Digitally enhanced wham-bam action is akin to the digital spectacle found in The Incredible Hulk. Which, in the view of New Yorker critic David Denby, “is both too much and too little, and it’s beginning to put some of us in a funk of disappointment and boredom. When you’ve seen one half-ton piece of metal flung through the air, you’ve seen them all.” Or one utterly ridiculous car chase or idiotic spiralling-bullet sequence or whatever, working you over like slugs to the rib cage.
Wanted is one of the rankest, crudest, least artful impact-for-impact’s-sake thrillers of all time — certainly one of the least original and most vulgar I’ve ever suffered through. Alll thrust and fists and taunts, it reeks of brute grotesque Russian machismo through and through. It seems to have been made for the goons and gorillas who, some filmmakers feel, need to be gut-slammed by sound and eye-flash so they’ll pay attention or “get” anything.
All good action films have a system of logic (causes and effects and conditilons, like The Matrix had) that they adhere to — this has none at all. It has no grace or wit and style; certainly none of its own. The beginning (the bones & the set-up) is so similar to The Matrix that the Wachowski should at least be irate.
Earlier today an HE reader wrote that Wanted is “a solid piece of entertainment”? I answered by asking how, then would you rate truly first-rate action thrillers like Collateral, The Matrix and The Bourne Supremacy on this scale? You have to have some sense of proportion, some concept of good and bad…some kind of standard of measurement or nothing means anything.
For me it was pure agony to sit through — another sledge-hammer rocket slam to the castle of Good Cinema.
Plus it trots out Morgan Freeman as the wise older guy for the 14th time over the last five years. It flaunts crude CG at the drop of a hat, and uses sound as a blunt and aggressive instrument. It believes (as did the Mark Millar/J.G. Jones six-part graphic novel) that an ancient order of assassins is a good thing that promotes justice and righteousness. (In what realm is this true?)
Bekmambetov, the Russian behind the two Nightwatch movies, is another Michael Bay acolyte who believes in one rank assault after another. He isn’t fit to shine Michael Mann or Paul Greengrass‘s boots.