My random thoughts on the movie Wanted, its loom, its action and its nuances (if there were any).
On Sunday night, I saw the movie Wanted. I was not particularly blown away.
As always, spoilers abound…
1 | So… are they superheroes?
My biggest problem with the movie was the inconsistency in these people’s super powers. I get it: They have super-adrenaline that lets them slow down the world and shoot the wings off a fly. But why could the guy at the beginning jump through a window and fly at least 50 feet? And how could they bend bullets? Make bullets go in a 360-degree circle? Basically, the movie had to decide: Do physics exist, or don’t they? Even fantastical movies need to be grounded in rules, the rules of that universe. The Matrix even stuck to rules. (At least I think it did?) Without rules in movies, just like without rules in life, there’s nothing but confusion and chaos.
2 | One leap too far
As a writer, you’re told very early a big rule-of-thumb for stories: People will make one giant leap. This movie asked them to make two giant leaps: One, that there is this group of super-assassins who can slow down time… and two, they get their orders on who to kill from a self-powered ancient loom. That’s two giant leaps, leading to the loom reveal being nothing but comical. I know this because the entire theater started laughing.
3 | A generic office life
I think the movie did a poor job setting up the main character’s boring, banal office existence. The voiceover told me he as the most forgettable life in the world… but the movie really didn’t show me. It used basic cliches — mean boss, girlfriend cheating — but nothing that came close to either Fight Club or Office Space in truly making you believe that the main character’s cubicle existence is any worse than yours or mine.
4 | The use of voiceover
The voiceover, in general, felt very lazy. Voiceover can be used brilliantly to enhance a story (Arrested Development and, again, Fight Club) but, in this case, it was used to deliver information that the writers weren’t able to show through characterization or dialogue.
5 | So much action
But who could blame them? Characterization time would’ve taken away from the action and effects. And this movie was all action and effects. The action and effects were cool. But it was all action and effects, no substance.
6 | Chekov’s rats
Also on the lazy writing front, the guy in the bathtub room bringing up the idea of exploding rats out of nowhere was painful. As soon as he said that, I knew that, in Act Three, a thousand exploding rats would come into play. And they sure did. It’s screenwriting 101: If a gun is introduced in Act One, it’d better go off in Act Three. But with a good writer, he can mask this and make it far less obvious.
7 | The generic title
I absolutely despise the title. I know it was the title of the comic series… but someone has to step up and change it. I hate the trend of giving movies one-word titles like this with only tertiary connections to the movie itself. It feels so bureaucratic. Also… the movie wasn’t really about anyone being wanted. The assassins being wanted by the police was only shown in passing. The main guy being wanted by the group to do a job is a weak connection to the title. Basically, I’m now trying to justify the title, and I don’t want to.
8 | Death by Q-score
It was funny… when I first saw that most of the people in the small assassins group weren’t famous, I realized they were going to die. And the deaths really went in order of the actors’ fame. Angelina Jolie was last, Common was second-to-last, and the no-names all died earlier.
9 | Oh, Morgan Freeman
So Morgan Freeman has officially reached the Michael Caine/Kevin Spacey phase of his career where it’s all about phoning it in and making sure he gets the paycheck, huh?
10 | We’re gonna need a montage
The movie spent SO much time on the training montage. And then they showed them doing ONE job (shooting the guy from the top of the El train). I would so much rather see them doing a few cool jobs than watch a 15-minute montage of knife-fighting, milk baths and El train overpass limbo.
11 | Can a loom tell the truth?
At the end, when Morgan Freeman told the group that the loom wanted all of them dead… why did they take his word for it? I mean, it had just been revealed that he was a major liar. Seems like Angelina was a little trigger-happy to kill at least a dozen guys and herself on faith like that.
Overall, on the 11 points scale, I give wanted a 4 out of 11.