Everyone needs a movie to validate their existence at some point. It might be a sappy romantic comedy to lift your spirits after a breakup, or a difficult story of endurance to give you faith in the human condition. Or sometimes, it’s a bloody, anarchy fueled punch in the face to “the man” that lets the world know you’re here, and you’re damn good enough for anything life can throw at you. Unfortunately for Wanted, Fight Club already provided that for angry white males a decade earlier, and so it falls into the Ass Bin like so many other abortions of modern cinema.
Yeah, this is just the 2008 update to Fight Club. More stupid slow motion effects, more guys hating their white collar jobs, and so much vitriol for Ikea. Honestly, what’s up with that? They have really good meatballs, you know, so I think we should cut them a bit of slack.
Wanted is another entry in the ‘Man, doesn’t it suck to be a white middle class heterosexual male? The whole world is out to get you constantly and keep you down. Wouldn’t it be awesome to just one day say “fuck the system” and break out of your shell in the most masculine and powerful way ever by discovering that you’re a crazy awesome mastermind?’ genre.
Of course, getting all that to fit on a label at Blockbuster would be tough, so we’ll just call it an action flick and move on.
But let’s take a more practical approach and get back to that “it sucks to be a regular white heterosexual male” thing. The story revolves around a man named Wesley, and as we are repeatedly told, his pathetic life has spiraled out of control and everyone knows it. Unlike the rest of us failures, Wesley has inherited a super power that is in no way a rip off of Spider-man’s spider sense, or so the writers hoped, and after a twenty minute training montage, he’s ready to be a super assassin.
Oh, and there’s something about a co-ed fraternity of assassins that secretly manipulates the world through targets revealed to them via binary code hidden in a loom’s weaving errors, and some guy is slowly killing off the assassins, and they need Wesley to save them for some reason. *inhale* But that’s not important. What is important is that money and the ability to hurt others without fear of retribution forms the basis of masculinity.
No, seriously. After discovering that he’s been made rich by the assassins, Wesley suddenly feels capable and in control of his life to the point that 1. he tells off his boss in that way everyone dreams about, and 2. he knocks out the guy banging his girlfriend. Later, when he knocks out the guy again, who by the way was his best friend, Mr. Ex-Friend remarks “…that guy is the man.”
Side note: Every time I type “assassin,” I keep thinking “In what way do these people qualify as assassins?” They seem to try as hard as possible to stand out from the crowd and make it known to everyone that they kill people, waiving guns around and getting the police involved on several occasions. Aren’t assassins supposed to use stealth, espionage, and slow tactical maneuvers to get in close to their targets and silently remove them?
To be honest, though, a movie about real assassins probably would not be very entertaining. Characters would wait for days with a sight trained on targets, holding positions for the opportune moment to strike, often working in teams to ensure success…sort of like the movie Jarhead. I take it back, a movie about real assassins could be fantastically suspenseful and overflowing with quiet, introspective moments, but instead we’re left with Wanted.
Anyway, Wanted presents a refreshing disregard for the way the viewer perceives the world, letting the audience’s impressions of reality break down and reform much like the main character’s over the two hour adventure. Unfortunately for Wanted, the audience has that sense of reality for a reason – because it’s how things work.
Repeatedly, the movie asks us to accept that something can be just because. Take, for example, the “training” scenes halfway through the movie (in quotes because training apparently means repeatedly getting beat up) where in order to curve a bullet’s trajectory, we have to not accept what we know about physics. If you follow your instincts, it’ll work, guys, trust me. Morgan Freeman told me so.
This is roughly equivalent to wishing upon a star to be a real boy after a magic grasshopper tells sings a song ordering you to, and it happens again and again to explain why things are happening. That sort of vague reasoning works fine for children, but normally, adults need some sort of internally consistent reasoning other than just because to make something believable.
Ultimately, Wanted proves how dangerous conspiracy theories can be. The moral reasoning behind the Fraternity and the “loom of fate” guiding their actions easily parallels people that look for doomsday prophecies hidden in secret codes throughout the Bible. But at least doomsday cults only kill themselves.
Recommendation: Though it may be a little short, you’ll have tons of fun bending bullets around the Gears of War copied cover system, and maybe get a handful of quick achievements in the process. Definitely a rental recommendation for anyone with the option and a free afternoon.
Oh wait, that’s the Wanted game. Stay away from the movie.
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