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Back in the 80's there was no shortage of the big explosion/small on logic combo of action movies. But, as with so many phases, time went on, people stopped going, and the action movie, as it was in its big muscles/over the top heyday, faded away into that foggy thing we call nostalgia...

In the first decade of the 21st century, the action genre had become the unpopular stepchild, with horror, musicals, and superheroes cramming the multiplexes. When one did squeeze into the studios production slate, it was usually more of a gritty, realistic tone (the Bourne films) or a ‘thriller'-type movie that had some relevant commentary on the dark times we live in.

But our big-muscled heroes from the past have been paying us a visit in the last couple of years, and so it came as no surprise, when the millions started re-rolling in, that more would follow. The question remains to be proven yet whether they ‘don't make ‘em like they used to' or whether everything that's old is new again...

WantedRussian director Timur Bekmambetov impressed with his home-grown vampire/actioners Nightwatch and Daywatch. His skill with visuals and action set pieces is hard to deny. And although his first foray in the Hollywood blockbuster, Wanted, does not include faces from the aforementioned 80's action era, the film itself is a throwback to that time, with its over the top action and completely off the wall logic or lack thereof.

James McAvoy plays a meek, brow-beaten cubicle jockey, whose life is such a monotonous onslaught of negativity that he drowns himself in anti-depressants and tries to pretend his life doesn't suck harder than porno queen with a mortgage. While trying to refill a prescription, an attempt is made on his life, and a mysterious hottie (Angelina Jolie) saves him and reveals to him another life a life, it seems, he is predestined to embrace. The story is the worst discombobulating pile of old clichés, semi-mythological templates, and half-assed attempts to try and twist the story in unexpected directions. But to grind on this is to be unfair...

This film is supposed to take you, an ordinary person, on a journey with an ‘ordinary' person into a world of almost super-human feats and save the world myth. If you can shift your brain into neutral, and derive some pleasure from the flying bullets, balletic fighting and exploding cars, building, trains... rats (I shit you not: rats) then you're in for a slickly made couple of hours.

The talent in this film belies the content or at least it would have a couple of years ago. Their performances hit all the beats needed, but there is something about the disinterested dull spark in their eyes that is hard to ignore maybe like ‘this is paycheque time' if one is to be cynical. James McAvoy plays a great Regular Joe, and does his best to ground his character as realism takes a holiday after the first act admirably so.

The action is first rate; the imagination flying around at least in the visuals is hard to beat. Give Bekmambetov a golden script and the dude is going to make a classic movie in the not too distant future.

This review may seem like the biggest back-handed compliment one could muster, but it's not intended as such. Simply put, this reviewer is of two minds: on the one hand, it seems a modern audience's expectation for story is little more demanding than this film manages; but on the other, why should every movie in a generation be of the same ilk? So what if Bourne is the ‘respected' way to do an action flick these days? Isn't there room for all kinds?

There is nothing about Wanted that doesn't represent a great amount of care and effort being put into it. But without that foggy bias of nostalgia afforded hits from a bygone era (that are no better story-wise than this) the flick just doesn't quite pass muster in this viewer's eyes.


DVD

DVD Details:


Screen Formats: 2.35:1

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish

Language and Sound: English: DTS 5.1 HD; French: DTS 5.1 Surround; Spanish: DTS 5.1 Surround

Other Features: Color; interactive menus; scene access.

* Featurettes
o Cast of Characters (19:00)
o Stunts on the L Train (02:00)
o Special Effects: The Art of Impossible (08:00)
o Groundbreaking Visual Effects: From Imagination to Execution (08:00)
o The Origins of Wanted: Bringing the Graphic Novel to Life (08:00)
o Through the Eyes of Visionary Director Timur Bekmambetov (09:00)
* Extended Scene - (09:00)
* Music video
* Motion Comic

Number of Discs: 2 with Keepcase Packaging plus a digital version of the film to download to your personal player.

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