Saturday, October 10, 2009

Why So Angry, "Matrix?"

That, up there in the title, is my four-word review of "Wanted."

But, since I'm not writing this on Twitter, I'll strive for a few more words to sum up the film with slightly more precision--not that this film needs anything like care or concern. It was out there to make teenage boys fork out there money and sell some popcorn.

Now, you're probably wondering why I am getting to this film SOOOO late. I mean, it was in summer movie theaters two years ago, or something like that? Well, my answer to most everything (this included) is "I have three kids." I'll just leave it at that for now. Can we get back to the review?

Oh, and I could say SPOILER ALERT here, but . . . come on. Haven't you already seen this?

As you might surmise from my title above, this film owes a strong debt--perhaps its entire cinematic existence--to the Matrix trilogy. And there are many things about Wanted that made me think of Neo and his happy band of resistance fighters.

First, our main character Wesley lives a life of desperate anonymity. He's a ignorable drone in a cubicle office, doing other people's work for them. He hates it and he is heavily medicated to counteract his frequent anxiety attacks--most of which are triggered by his over-the-top office manager who terrorizes him with her stapler and bombastic voice. (Let's just say this lady ain't "Joan" from Mad Men.) But, much like Neo, who was also once an anonymous cube jockey, Wesley discovers during a strange encounter with a mysterious lady at the pharmacy (instead of a leather clad mystery lady at a rave), that all is not as it seems.

The pharmacy lady is Angelina Jolie, all tatted up and packing heat (weirdly shaped guns with joints that let her fire at 180 degree angles). Of course everyone knows she doesn't really need this . . . but that comes later. Jolie is "Fox." She saves Wesley from an assassin in a pharmacy shootup that would have made John Woo happy. The fight goes outside and morphs into a car chase that wasn't as inventive as the highway scene in Matrix 3 . . . or even the subway fight between Spidey and Doc. Ock in Spiderman 2. But no matter. The chase only propels the plot along more to the point where Wesley finds out that he is descended from a group of medieval assassins who can do freaky stuff like bend bullets (like Beckham) and that, they think, gives them the right to kill whomever they want.

The bullet bending and the fact that they get their orders from a loom.

Yeah, but its the Loom of FATE!!! Don't question its thread count!

Anyway, I've probably already spent more time of this review than was strictly necessary. So maybe I'll throw some questions and observations down at this point:

1. The healing pits remind me of Ra's al Ghul's Lazarus Pits. I'd say that this is quite intentional, since Wanted originated as a comic story. But I think they wanted them in the movie because it allowed the principal actors to be scantily clad often and dripping wet as well. (Remember that the audience is teenage boys . . . though they only showed Jolie in a healing pit once. But you only need once in the trailer, right?)

2. Speaking of Jolie. I didn't count, but she only had twenty five or thirty lines of dialogue in the whole film. If they were smart on the budget, they could have handed her the script, let her memorize it in the makeup chair while her body tattoos were being applied, filmed all of her scenes in one day, then let her go.

3. And speaking of talking . . . or the lack thereof. Inanimate objects had more to say in this film than Jolie. Early on, when Wesley is triumphantly storming out of the office to face his destiny, he smacks his best friend (who's also cuckolding him with his girlfriend) across the face with a computer keyboard. As the letters fly through the air (in slo-mo "bullet time") they spell out F@CK Y*U. Later, when Fox is bending a bullet, it has the word GOODBYE etched into it. I assume that the keyboard thing was never intended to be assumed real, but was the bullet pre-etched? And why would I even wonder about such things in a movie where bullets can travel in circles or be shot accurately from approximately 20 miles away.

Anyway, I won't go on. Except to say that while this movie did own its cinematic style, its basic story outline, and many other things from The Matrix, it replaced the slick futuristic "cool" of Neo and the Gang and substituted a whole lot of anger and gore. I guess that allows it to appeal to a different subset of the nerd audience, but it mostly turned me off. I could (in a bizarre way) aspire to be Neo, but I would not want to be Wesley.

1 comment:

j.thunder said...

i was too curious about this movie---including its Russian director---so i Netflix'ed it. wow. i had to fastforward through it out of shame.