Making his American feature debut, Kazakhstan-born director Timur Bekmambetov ups the ante on turning graphic comic books into big-screen adventures with this hyper-kinetic, viscerally thrilling, supercharged transformation of a nerd into a superhero.
25 year-old Wesley Gibson (James McAvoy of “Atonement,” “Last King of Scotland,” “Chronicles of Narnia”) is apathetic and riddled with anxiety; he hates his job as an account manager and his girl-friend is boffing his best-friend. Which explains why he’s immediately intrigued when Fox (Angelina Jolie) suddenly saves his life, telling him his estranged father was one of the world’s greatest assassins and recruiting him to follow in his footsteps.
Yet it’s not quite that simple. Fox works for Sloan (Morgan Freeman), who masterminds The Fraternity, a 1,000 year-old league of supersensory-trained killers pledged to carry out a binary code of vengeance hidden in the fibers of the Loom of Fate: “Kill one, save a thousand.” Their shooting specialty is curving the trajectory of bullets around obstacles and people. The Fraternity’s training methods are brutal but Gibson soon develops his dormant skills, along with growing suspicions about Sloan’s fickle finger of fate and his own destiny.
Mark Millar and J.G. Jones’ cult comic book series was adapted by Michael Brandt, Derek Haas and Chris Morgan, and Timur Bekmambetov’s resume includes “Day Watch” and “Night Watch,” Russia’s two biggest commercial hits. Inventive action and stunt work are his forte – as demonstrated by the elevated train sequences and a climactic chase on a high-speed Pendolino train, superbly photographed by Mitchell Amundsen, edited by David Brenner and orchestrated by Danny Elfman.
. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Wanted” is a wry, nascent 9, because Terence Stamp, who plays an enigmatic character, says a sequel is already in the works.