Saturday, July 05, 2008


James McAvoy stars as Wesley Gibson, a 25-year-old accountant type who's days are spent huddling in a cubicle, getting degraded by his fat, obnoxious boss and being taken advantage of by his best friend/co-worker who, by the way, also happens to be screwing Wes's live-in girlfriend on a regular basis. Oh, and if all that wasn't bad enough, Wes also suffers from panic attacks. Nice, huh? Well, that's the extent of Wes's life, that is, until he meets Fox (Angelina Jolie) one night in a drug store. During the course of their eventful introduction, Fox informs Wes that his father, who had abandoned the family when Wes was a child, was not a deadbeat but was, in reality, a super assassin gifted with a rare genetic makeup which, when harnessed properly, could grant him access to strengths, speeds and perceptions that would make him a veritable superhuman killing machine. Turns out that others with this special genetic blend (like Fox) have been around for ages and, centuries ago, a group of such individuals had gotten together and formed a secret society called the Fraternity and had taken it upon themselves, aided by a machine of fate, to use their specials skills in ridding the world of very bad people. As time passed, others who were like them, including their descendants, were initiated into the Fraternity in an effort to continue their good work for the benefit of all mankind. Now, according to Fox, one of the brethren has gone rogue with the intentions of using his skills for personal gain, and knowing that the Fraternity would come after him, he started out on the offensive by killing their best and most gifted bad ass: Wes's father. Fox goes on to explain that the rogue agent's next move will be to take out the one person who could most likely fill the shoes of the aforementioned bad ass. Yep, you guessed it: Wes. Armed with this new information and insight, Wes must now delve deeper into himself if he wants to stay alive, and as he learns more from the Fraternity's tutors and their leader, Sloan (Morgan Freeman), Wes must walk the fine line of revenge and the fulfillment of his destiny.

This flick was great fun. I know, I know, there's that whole issue of physics and curving the trajectory of a bullet, which is displayed predominantly in the trailers, but I think the filmmakers were smart in showcasing that aspect of the film so there would be no mistake in what type of movie this is. This is not a Jason Bourne or a (spectacularly rebooted) James Bond movie, even though their reality can be, at times, just as tenuous. This is a movie based on Mark Millar's 2003 six issue comic series, of the same name, from Top Cow productions, and while the story has been considerably altered for the big screen, it is still firmly rooted in the comic book world - meaning, that it might not adhere to Newton's Three Laws of Motion, but it is damn fun. Besides, it's pretty much a given that when you combine Angelina Jolie with guns, physics are never a priority - not to mention that, even standing still, Angelina can break (and possibly create) laws of motion (and gravity) as she sees fit, but, as I so often remind you, that's only my opinion.

As for the cast, I thought James McAvoy was the perfect choice to play the easily ignored everyman who turns into a focused machine of retribution - it was a real treat watching as he transformed his character's traits. McAvoy is a real talent with a varied background which has served him well in the development of characters, his previous role being that of Robbie Turner in Atonement. One of the first things I remember seeing McAvoy in was an episode of Band of Brothers and since then, he's made great strides in becoming a very recognized actor at home in the U.K., as well as here in the states, with his latest role rumored to be that of Bilbo in the upcoming Hobbit film(s) - emphasis on rumored. Coincidentally, British actor Marc Warren, who's character in Wanted is known as The Repairman, was also in several episodes of Band of Brothers - just not the one McAvoy was in. Warren, as The Repairman, is intense and unforgiving and adds the right amount of menace to a role that could have been overshadowed by it's brutality. I will say that it's unfortunate Warren didn't get to display the dry wit or unassuming innocence that he has recently shown a knack for on the shows Life on Mars and Doctor Who, respectively. To get back to the headliners, Morgan Freeman taps into his stalwart character file for this movie and provides the serious universe balancing aspect to some extreme situations while Angelina, to briefly comment on her acting skills, actually portrays her over the top character more realistically than any of her past action endeavors, embracing her character's roots in Greek Tragedy and displaying the emotions and motivations accordingly.

Lastly, I would be remiss were I not to mention that this film is worth seeing simply because of groundbreaking visualist director Timur Bekmambetov, alone, and because of him, the movie would be just as much fun even if the cast were composed of complete unknowns. This is Bekmambetov's first American film, having completed all of his prior work in his native Russia where he is the creator of the most successful Russian film franchise in history, the Night Watch series, which broke all the Russian box office records previously set by The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. Interestingly, Bekmambetov was able to use Konstantin Khabensky, his favorite Russian actor and main character of the Night Watch series, in a small but pivotal role in this film. So, if you've seen either Night Watch or Day Watch, you probably have a good idea what's in store and are excited to not only watch this movie, but see it, as well. If you're not familiar with either film, then power up your suspension of disbelief and sit back and enjoy the ride.


Chris said...

A movie tip for you. Just saw The Visitor a few weeks ago. Fabulous.

John Taylor said...

hi chris and thanks - I read where Jenkin's performance is Oscar worthy - unfortunately, the film isn't showing around here, yet, but I'll definitely check it out when the opportunity presents itself.