Wanted (Germany/ Russia/ USA, 2008)
Directed by Timur Bekmambetov
Starring James McAvoy, Angelina Jolie, Morgan Freeman, Terence Stamp
Angelina Jolie's career is as compellingly fractured as many of the characters she has played at her best. She has always been in her element inhabiting individuals who are in some way damaged, conflicted, morally ambiguous or self-doubting, something which is evident in works as massively diverse as Hackers, Girl, Interrupted and A Mighty Heart. Roles like this are a challenge to the image of Jolie which sells glossy magazines and generates online hits; they are roles where her talent makes the headlines, rather than her lips, her husband, or her leg at an award ceremony.
Kick-Ass and Kingsman: The Secret Service were successful adaptations because Matthew Vaughn understood how OTT the tone and story were and embraced them with open arms, creating independently-spirited films which delivered blockbuster-quality visuals on a relatively low budget.
Flash Gordon on speed - is instead as tediously generic as a Jason Statham film.
Batman Begins is a perfect example, with Bruce Wayne's rejection of Ra's al Ghul's nihilism early in the film playing just as much a part in the genesis of Batman as the death of Wayne's parents or his fall into the cave. But Wanted is far too interested in loud, empty spectacle to even consider approaching these tropes in an inventive way. It's too afraid that if it stops for more than ten seconds, its predominantly male, teenage target market will get bored, and so its pace never lets up for long enough to let us to think about anything we are seeing.
Mythbusters proved it). Neither Jolie nor McAvoy come out of it very well, both being utterly one-note and superficial, but they are at least more charismatic than their counterparts in Watchmen. And unlike Watchmen, the tone is at least consistent, even if it's completely misjudged.
For more on Angelina Jolie's career, check out my WhatCulture! article here.
NEXT REVIEW: South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut (1999)