IT CAME FROM NETFLIX! Wanted

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I think it's safe to say that just about anything can be adapted into a film. Even in this little obscure corner of the Internet, quite a few adaptations have been reviewed as they've passed through my mailbox or browser. Starship Troopers is the adaptation of a novel. The Mutant Chronicles adapted a tabletop role-playing game. In The Name of the King had something to do with the video game Dungeon Siege . ...I think. These adaptations run the gamut of being generally faithful to their source material, to preserving the spirit of the original while rewriting a good portion of it for one reason or another, to bending the franchise over a rail and gleefully going to town while making obscene gestures at the fan base. Wanted falls into that middle category, adapting a comic book for the big screen in way that might not be terribly recognizable to the comic's fans but is still charged with enough of the original's spirit to not descend into an incoherent disappointing mess. Like X-Men: The Last Stand did. I still have nightmares...

Courtesy Universal
If anything can disperse the aforementioned nightmares, it's this. 'Wanted' indeed.

Wanted was a short-run comic book series penned by Mark Millar about a down-on-his-luck office schlub named Wesley Gibson who has his hum-drum life of corporate drudgery interrupted by a sexy foul-mouthed assassin named Fox who informs him that his father, the greatest killer of super-beings who ever lived (appropriately dubbed 'The Killer') has died and left his son a substantial fortune. To earn it, Wesley must embrace his destiny of super-villainy, overcome years of self-deprecation that anybody who spends any time in a cubicle can tell you is a side-effect of office work and kill a whole lot of super-heroes. There are a lot of super-powers thrown around the pages of Wanted, but Wesley's power is, simply, making people stop breathing. With bullets. Lots and lots of bullets.

The film adaptation does away with the super-hero motif, making it more a straight-forward badass action flick and less an examination of what a super-powered world would be like if the super-villains had won the seemingly endless struggle between good and evil. Wesley is still an office schlub, Fox is still hot, and there are still lots and lots of bullets. However, instead of joining a fraternity of super-villains, Wes joins a fraternity of assassins who use their work to ensure the tapestry of fate does not come apart at the seams. They get their orders from a magic loom. And no, I have no idea how that thing works.

Courtesy Universal
I wish I looked that good working a desk job.

Much like the comic book, this movie is less about the "what" and more about the "who." Wesley as a protagonist is someone with whom just about anybody can relate, and like his blonde comic-book counterpart, we actually find ourselves cheering for him as he breaks free of his corporate shackles, learns to curve bullets and embarks on a journey to discover who he really is, because that quiet mousy pushover in that cubicle is not him, or who he wants to be. This journey of self-discovery is a bit more violent than most, but it's still a journey worth taking.

The other thing Wanted has going for it are moments that worked just as well in the comics as they do on the screen. There's the moment where Wesley shoots the wings off of flies, moments where he lashes out against his co-workers, the moment where his pseudo-mentor Morgan Freeman drops the F-bomb and the moment where Angelina Jolie as Fox walks around dressed only in her tattoos. Some new elements that take the place of super-villainy have moments of their own, like the moment where Wesley curves a bullet for the first time or uses a car in a very interesting way to get a shot on his target. They're the kind of moments that make me smile, even upon reflection.

Courtesy Universal
Angelina Jolie and the luckiest car in the world.

The biggest problem Wanted suffers from is that these moments are not necessarily directly related to one another. They are, instead, strung together with a plot that has all of the tensile strength and cohesion as a slightly frayed string of dental floss. In losing the super-powers, Wanted also lost a lot of its color and charm. The graphic novel had me rolling or cheering just about every other page. The film manages a few laughs and a smile or two, but isn't quite the same. It is, in essence, the generic corner store version of your favorite soda pop - it's still fizzy and tastes kind of similar, but you can tell the difference.

Courtesy Universal
Seriously, hearing 'Red' drop his Precision F-Strike on us is worth the price of admission.

Wanted wavers a bit on the line between recommended watching and something you should skip. What puts it just barely in the positive column is the very self-aware nature of the film. Unlike some other adaptations out there, it's ashamed of neither its source material nor the idea of taking the piss out of itself. Cleolinda Jones, in the preface to her Wanted in 15 Minutes, says that this film is "outrageous and stupid and funny and knows it". James McEvoy is having just as much fun here as he did playing Mr. Tumnus in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, if not more. Of course, in Narnia he didn't have the chance to make out with Angelina Jolie. I had fun watching Wanted, and reading the graphic novel again afterward was even more fun in light of this adaptation, which makes it a success for me and earns a recommendation. It's not the greatest badass action film out there - Shoot 'Em Up is a better self-parody of the genre - nor is it the best comic book adaptation film to date. That honor belongs to Iron Man and the only thing endangering it is coming out on May 7th. Because if anything is going to dethrone Iron Man, it isn't going to be Wanted - it'll be Iron Man 2. And I cannot wait for that.

Josh Loomis can't always make it to the local megaplex, and thus must turn to alternative forms of cinematic entertainment. There might not be overpriced soda pop & over-buttered popcorn, and it's unclear if this week's film came in the mail or was delivered via the dark & mysterious tubes of the Internet. Only one thing is certain... IT CAME FROM NETFLIX.

This film just hurt me with it's blandness. Plus, it was different enough from the comic to not interest me at all.

Angelina Jolie instantly turns me off a film as well. Call me biased, but I hate everything she does or stands for.

Still, another lovely review. Different mic? It doesn't sound quite as good, lot of background noise. Your lovely voice shines through though.

Furburt:
This film just hurt me with it's blandness. Plus, it was different enough from the comic to not interest me at all.

Like I said, a lot of the color and charm is missing. It's not as fun as Shoot 'Em Up, that's for damn sure. :) Still, some of the moments were worth it, imo.

Furburt:
Angelina Jolie instantly turns me off a film as well. Call me biased, but I hate everything she does or stands for.

You're biased.

Furburt:
Still, another lovely review. Different mic? It doesn't sound quite as good, lot of background noise. Your lovely voice shines through though.

Yes. Working from home today, and the kitten has done very bad things to my headsets. So I used the microphone integrated into my webcam.

Thanks for the compliment!

I thought Wanted was great. I watched it tired and not in the mood for a complicated plot just mindless awesomeness and it delivered. Great review, by the way.

BlueInkAlchemist:

Furburt:
Angelina Jolie instantly turns me off a film as well. Call me biased, but I hate everything she does or stands for.

You're biased.

Yay!

Now call me 'honey'...

BlueInkAlchemist:

Yes. Working from home today, and the kitten has done very bad things to my headsets. So I used the microphone integrated into my webcam.

Ah yes, Webcams and their crappy audio recording. Bane of my existence, till I got a proper mic.

Hubilub does not like stupid movie. Hubilub smash stupid movie!

*smash*

Hubilub will now watch a more complicated movie, like Watchmen. Or New Moon.

Great review as always.

Terrific, I especially liked the read along feature since I could really get a sense of what emotional tone you trying to get across, plain text doesn't really do it for me because of that exact reason. Although when I tried to scroll down sometimes the sound would go off, I'd just scroll down further and it would come back on though. You might want to look into that, but it might just be my crappy laptop. :P

I refuse to see this movie, I don't like it when a movie tries to be cool and stupid at the same time. I don't really get off on "SUPER COOL ACTION!" thing, I need action that has some meaning behind it.

wouldyoukindly99:
I refuse to see this movie, I don't like it when a movie tries to be cool and stupid at the same time. I don't really get off on "SUPER COOL ACTION!" thing, I need action that has some meaning behind it.

My wife is in agreement with you. She refuses to watch "Shoot 'Em Up" with me because it's mindless violence. I disagree: there's a mind there. It's just a mind hopped up on Mountain Dew that gets just as excited as I do when Monica Bellucci's on the screen.

Hubilub:
Hubilub does not like stupid movie. Hubilub smash stupid movie!

*smash*

Hubilub will now watch a more complicated movie, like Watchmen. Or New Moon.

Great review as always.

I could watch New Moon for an ICFN feature. Or Twilight for that matter. But I wouldn't do it of my own volition.

I'd need incentive.

Hint, hint.

BlueInkAlchemist:

wouldyoukindly99:
I refuse to see this movie, I don't like it when a movie tries to be cool and stupid at the same time. I don't really get off on "SUPER COOL ACTION!" thing, I need action that has some meaning behind it.

My wife is in agreement with you. She refuses to watch "Shoot 'Em Up" with me because it's mindless violence. I disagree: there's a mind there. It's just a mind hopped up on Mountain Dew that gets just as excited as I do when Monica Bellucci's on the screen.

Well that's not really much of a mind to speak of...and I love Mountain Dew. :P

BlueInkAlchemist:
My wife is in agreement with you. She refuses to watch "Shoot 'Em Up" with me because it's mindless violence. I disagree: there's a mind there. It's just a mind hopped up on Mountain Dew that gets just as excited as I do when Monica Bellucci's on the screen.

There's a mind in Shoot 'Em Up in the same way that there's technically a mind in a conspiracy theorist. That is to say, what little mind is there isn't exactly being put to good use. Shoot 'Em Up had lots of guns and bullets, but it had more creative things to be done with a carrot. In fact it probably would've been more noteworthy if it was strictly about fatal produce.

I myself liked Wanted the first time around, but it doesn't stand up to repeat viewings. I tried watching it again a little while back, and I just couldn't get into it. The pacing and flow of that movie has a mind of it's own, and while there are certainly some great ideas in play, I felt that the technical side of the film let the whole production down. I wasn't terribly fond of the fourth wall breaking either.

I prefer my balls-to-the-wall brainless action a la Crank and Crank: High Voltage. Pump a British mobster full of drugs, piss him off, give him a car, a gun, a booty call, and a villain, and set him free in LA. Simple, straightforward, direct, and visceral. It's the cinematic equivalent of a Red Bull.

Anyway, fantastic review as per usual. I feel inclined to mention that it appears unnecessarily picture heavy (and isn't that signature of yours usually italicized?), but such lovely words compel me to quit my whining. Reading your weekly work makes me wish that I could be bothered to do the same.

Edit -- It's also refreshing to see that I'm not the only one incredibly stoked for Iron Man 2. May 7th can't come soon enough!

Sort of expected such a review, it goes without saying that this movie is right on the fence of "go see it" or "don't bother."

I laughed so much when the movie told me it was about a bunch of weavers. And then it got boring. And then funny. And then boring again.

BlueInkAlchemist:

Hubilub:
Hubilub does not like stupid movie. Hubilub smash stupid movie!

*smash*

Hubilub will now watch a more complicated movie, like Watchmen. Or New Moon.

Great review as always.

I could watch New Moon for an ICFN feature. Or Twilight for that matter. But I wouldn't do it of my own volition.

I'd need incentive.

Hint, hint.

Watch it.

That's your incentive!

 

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