Mark Millar and J.G. Jones comic mini-series Wanted is brought to life by Russian director Timur Bekmambetov, or is it? It’s common knowledge and almost expected that Hollywood movies that are based on adaptations tend to stray from the original source material, unfortunately Wanted falls into that category. If you’re a fan of the comic then you’ll need to be prepared for the fact that the movie merely borrowed a title, and some names from the comic and that’s it. When watching this movie keep telling yourself it’s merely a coincidence that the movie and main character have the same names. If you can do that you should be fine and actually enjoy the movie for what it is.
The movie follows Wesley Gibson, played by James McAvoy, an office drone who one day discovers that he is actually the son of the world’s greatest assassin. Leaving behind his life of panic attacks, an overbearing boss, a cheating girlfriend and a dishonest best friend, Wesley is pulled into an organization known as the Fraternity where he’ll become a new man. Guided by Fox, played by an extremely anemic looking Angelina Jolie, Wes is trained in the art of the assassination by the worlds best assassins.
Under the supervision of Sloan, played by Morgan Freeman, Wesley is told about the death of his father by the traitor Cross. Sloan sheds light on The Fraternity, an ancient league of assassins that metes out justice as determined by the Loom of Destiny. Yes, that’s right the Loom of Destiny, an absurd device built around murderous weavers where fate decides the Fraternity’s next target by sewing their name in binary. Yes, you read that right.
Wes then undergoes an excruciating training regimen, which includes your random beatings and stabbings, until he accepts the Fraternity’s motto: Kill one, save a thousand. After his training is complete he’s tasked with carrying out a few hits before he is sent after the traitorous Cross, played by Thomas Kretschmann, whom we learn is a rogue member of the Fraternity out to kill his former comrades one by one.
Wes gradually embraces his new found vocation, and enjoys feeling empowered after a lifetime of being a nobody. He’s living it up with his new found confidence, but soon learns that some of his colleagues aren’t as righteous as he first believed. This forces Wes to make a choice between his new life and what is right, setting up a pretty cool final act.
Wanted is Bekmambetov first Western film, having come off his hugely popular Night Watch trilogy in Russia. He’s brought the same visual and narrative elements seen in those films to Wanted and it’s paid off. His action sequences are top notch and the violence is typical Bekmambetov. It’s difficult to think of another director that could pull of this type of film making any better. One could only imagine the type of movie he could have made if the script followed the comic at all, I’d dare say it would be even better.
Overall, Wanted is not a bad movie. It knows what it is and doesn’t pretend to be anything different and that makes it all the more enjoyable. I suppose the biggest gripe one may have would be how far it strays from the original material. It’s a shame the producers felt that the source material couldn’t pull its own weight considering how superior it is to the movie. I’m not saying that Wanted is bad, far from it. Just go in with the expectation that it’s not the same as the comic and you’ll enjoy it all the more.