Sunday, July 13, 2008



I recently went to see the movie Wanted. I will admit, a large draw was Angelina Jolie. And Morgan Freeman. For different reasons.

I must say, I truly enjoyed this film. It was exactly what I was looking for. It was not a deep, causes you to re-analyze your life cinematic event. Nor was it absolutely mindless dribble to fill a few hours.

The storyline has been told as long as people have been telling stories. A young man living a boring, droll life who discovers he has a greater destiny. King Arthur had a similar tale. Robert Louis Stevenson loved the thought of the ordinary being destined to greatness. Tolkien, Lewis, Twain, they all told this story. They just didn't have Angelina Jolie covered in tats.....but I digress.

There were two negatives with Wanted. The biggest was the pornographic violence. People didn't just get killed, their heads were blown off. The blood spatter was shown flying from behind heads when they were shot. Some may say that it is in the name of "realism", but I say that it is unnecessary. Shoot someone and they fall. A little blood. Stop the onslaught of gore to make the viewer cringe. We get it, they were shot and shot well. John Wayne did it too, but there were no brains on the wall when he left a place.

The second negative was the sharp Fight Club overtone. From the self narration to the cinematography, I felt as though Tyler Durden was going to come out and beat me up for looking at his wife.....did I mention Angelina Jolie was in the film?

However, those two issues aside, I felt that the film had an underlying understanding of honor and sacrifice. This was portrayed in a way that is often missing in films today.

The main character Wesley, discovers he has been duped, that he has been tricked into killing his own father. He discovers that the very man who trained him to be an assassin is a traitor. (If you haven't seen the film, it is based around a man who is trained to work for a group of assassins that kills people based on anonymous orders. The idea is that they are killing to set balance, not for personal gain.) And then Sloan reveals that in order for the Assassins to truly fulfill their destiny, to stay pure, they would all have to die, as all of their names have come up.

The stage is set. Do the Assassins kill each other, thus proving that they truly believe in what they are doing? They claim they kill those they are required, no questions. But to do that to themselves? This is where the movie could have wimped out. It could have killed off just the really corrupt guys. Or just the ones that decided to compromise. And, it would have been okay. If Angelina's bullet had killed everyone, but James McAvoy had shot it before it hit her, he could have thrown in a cheesy line about fate not always being right, and the movie would have been acceptable. What put it over the edge was that it understood that for a story to be truly great, self sacrifice is the key. Thus, Angelina takes her own bullet as well. Everyone who, in order to uphold the integrity of the organization, had to die, dies.

Sacrifice is difficult. It does not always make for happy endings. I wanted Angelina to live. I wanted her to somehow survive the slaughter. But for the story to be a great one, she could not. The writer of this story understood that, and thus ensured a great tale.

Plus there are rats that are used as bombs, Morgan Freeman as a bad guy, and Angelina Jolie covered in tats getting out of a tub. So it had that going for it too.

All in all, on a completely arbitrary scale of 0 (bad) to 7 (fantastico) haggis (that is correct, on I Dream of Scotland we measure movies in haggis) I would give it 5. 5 Haggis. Don't worry, 7 Haggis is not easy to come by.


karlie nicole mann. said...

john, you should know that i have never walked out of a movie theater because i hated a movie. until i saw wanted. it was just too much for me, i agree that stories where someone living a mundane life seeks something more and breaks out of it are awesome, but this was done in SUCH a poor way. it just reflects how our society is so desensitized, and it's not cool anymore to see a little blood - people have to be shot point blank in the head and blood has to splatter. and do NOT get me started on the sexual overtones. i was appalled. and, i thought it just sucked, AND i am so disappointed in morgan freeman and james mcavoy. okay i'm done with my ranting.

in the future we just just stick to awesomely bad movies such as sasquatch to avoid any further disagreements!

*but, i do not think less of you or anyone that liked the movie, it just was not for me.

rachel rianne said...

i'm probably never going to see that movie,
so i read your whole synopsis of it.
you should write synopses for movies, john,
i'm sure you'd do fantastically.

and thanks, because now i don't have to go see it!

and i'm sorry that angelina died.
for your sake, at least.

luke said...

i have to agree with karlie actually john--even though i didn't walk out on the film. i wasn't sure if it was the bullet going through the donut or the knocked out tooth providing the "u" in the f**k you (shoot 'um up anyone? another absolutely terrible movie that i did turn off), but i left asking when they are going to realize that there is just nothing more that they can do. this is just ridiculous. can a movie be more unrealistic and ridiculous? i submit that it cannot.

now i know you mentioned realism too, but that's not why heads exploded. if you want realism, see a movie that has some degree of artistic measure--this was complete over sensitization. i mean, bending a bullet, really? and that's not even close to the most ridiculous thing.

i have this thing with movies/tv shows (lost etc.) that just are taken so far to the extreme. there's no subtlety to narrative elements or suspense. it's all so over dramatic it makes me sick. it actually physically makes me sick. this movie left a really bad taste in my mouth--not just because it was bad, but because of what it says about the nature of entertainment for our culture. senseless violence ok is nothing all that new. but if it's gotta be there give me some rich thematic nihilism like there will be blood, no country for old men, or the departed. now that's entertainment.