Friday, July 11, 2008

Wanted: Not Wanted

I forgot to mention I saw "Wanted" on Monday. Before you start looking to see a movie this weekend, I want to throw in with Randy here. The James MacAvoy/ Angelina Jolie/ Morgan Freeman movie "Wanted" isn't terribly good.

I don't know why. It seemed to have lots of plot elements I should have enjoyed and the idea behind the movie sort of had potential. But (1) it sort of ripped off Star Wars in some ways from a plot perspective, and (2) it refused to actually explore the space set up by the movie, which actually seemed interesting. Also, the title "Wanted" had nothing to do with anything.

The movie seemed as if it had potential to be an over-the-top dark comedy of sorts, but that, flat out, didn't happen. Instead they went the action movie route towards a terribly unsatisfactory denouement.

I also keep hearing how great Angelina Jolie was in "28 Days", but this is like the third movie I've seen her in, and I don't get it. She seemed as if she was barely registering in the movie, and mistakes "looking as if you're thinking about being somewhere else" for mysterious. I'm also one of the rare guys you'll find who doesn't find Joile attractive. (A) I look at her and see Joe Buck in makeup, and (b) she's gotten so scrawny by this movie, its sort of tough to take her seriously as someone who could take you in a fight.

MacAvoy is okay. No problem there. The material just wasn't ready to support what he should have been doing in the role. There's a few moments of slow-mo brilliance that lets you know what he should have been doing for the duration of the movie and who the character COULD have been.

The movie spends the first 2/3rds setting up a world, which is really too long. About, seriously, five minutes showing that world in action, and then the last 1/3rd taking the world apart. It's just a terribly clunky way to balance a story, and sort of makes you feel that the action taken to get you through the first part so you can get to the second is sort of a waste. Like "Men in Black", the creators are so interested in introducing you to "how things work", there's just not much room for a story.

At the end of the day, the movie could have drawn you into the world of super-human assassins and their world of moral ambiguity. I'm reminded of the engrossing environment and characters of "Fight Club", and the unapologetic approach to characters who sneer at mundane work-a-day life. That seems to be the message "Wanted" thinks its offering up, but they sort of forget that (a) killing people is illegal and won't get you very far, and (b) most people don't suddenly find out their anxiety attacks are actually supper powers bubbling to the surface (yeah, that's a spoiler, but if you don't see it coming, woe unto you). Prescribing super powers as the antidote to modern day office work is... a curious solution at best.

Oh, and yeah... this is based on Mark "My Ego is Huuuuuuuge" Millar's graphic novel, which I've never read.


JAL said...

That last act was terrible. It ruined what I thought was a fun summer film. They made the characters serve the plot, which I think leads to characters no one cares about. The end of act two, should've been before the first half, then it felt like they'd wasted the running time and had to force an ending. Angelina Jolie is pretty fab, in my book. I always thought she played her roles appropriately, rather than making herself the center of every scene.

The League said...

I have to think that, as bad as the script was, you could be right about Jolie's performance. Except that I'm a firm believer in "there are no small roles, only small actors". If I thought Wanted were a subtle, understated movie, then fine. But this was a "slow motion smack across the face with a keyboard" kind of movie. It was screaming for someone to take it over the top.

That said, if they didn't give her lines, or she lost scenes or lines in the cutting room, there's not much you can do about that.

Flat out, it was the kind of dumb action movie where the hero stands among wreckage shouting the name of the villain.

The League said...

I also have been informed that Jolie was not in "28 Days", but "Girl Interrupted". Sorry about that. I saw neither.

Simon MacDonald said...

I've read the graphic novel and seen the movie. The book is much better. With your in depth knowledge of the DC universe I'm sure that you'd enjoy it. Try getting it from your local library.

The movie was so, so to me. I called the "plot twist" half way through which ticked off my wife. I wouldn't say that I want my money back but I was pretty indifferent to the whole thing.

However, if you are looking for many, many shots of bullets piecing the human cranium this is your movie!

The League said...

So was the movie a total departure from the book then? This is kind of fascinating.

Simon MacDonald said...

The first third of the movie moved along the sames lines of the book but the last two thirds were departing from the book quite liberally.