directed by Timur Bekmambetov
(Universal, 2008)

For years, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen has stood as the prime example of a comic-book movie that had little to do with the book upon which it was based. However, in this capacity, Wanted has exceeded it.

I'm sorry, Mark Millar, but you have been Alan Moored.

Millar, of course, is the man who wrote Wanted, a graphic novel about a league of supervillains who rule the world from the shadows. Timur Bekmambetov, on the other hand, is the man who directed a movie he claims is adapted from that book. It's not.

Where the book centers on lawlessness without accountability, the movie tries to make sense of it, turning the nihilistic Fraternity into a Fraternity of Assassins who are some sort of moral guardians, killing only those whose deaths will somehow benefit the rest of society. Bekmambetov gives the assassins a greater purpose that doesn't need to be there -- and, really, shouldn't be there. By making them agents of order -- following, of all things, the dictates of a magical loom -- Bekmambetov has stripped the book of its meaning, creating something entirely different that shares only a title, a couple of main characters and a brutal training sequence.

In the film, James McAvoy is Wesley Allan Gibson, an accountant who lives a life of not-so-quiet desperation until Fox (Angelina Jolie) comes along and introduces him to a life of violence ... which Wesley takes to like a bee to honey. Meanwhile, Sloan (Morgan Freeman) pulls the strings from behind the scenes, interpreting the fateful dictates of the loom and giving Gibson, Fox and the other Fraternity members their assignments.

The movie expends a lot of time on baths, pig-shooting and exploding rats. There is a cool effect with colliding bullets, but Bekmambetov, apparently deciding the effect was really cool, used it and overused it until I got bored seeing it.

This movie is really, really, really bad.

So, remember the book I mentioned? The one by Mark Millar? Well, Bekmambetov didn't read it -- or, if he did, he didn't like it very much and substituted an entirely different story. I recommend you stick with the printed version of this one.

review by
Tom Knapp

16 August 2008

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