Review by Christopher Coleman
The Summer of 2008 seems to be one major-hype-job after another. From IRON MAN to SPEED RACER to PRINCE CASPIAN to INDIANA JONES to THE INCREDIBLE HULK and now to WANTED. Before the fervor of one of these megamovies has even reached its peak, another one is released. The fervor over WANTED, like all of these others, has been built up for months. WANTED has had the unique position of being "that film" that looks like it would end up being something different...something edgy...something to make audiences sit up in their seats and say, "I ain't seen that before!" Director Timur Bekmambetov (of the NIGHT WATCH trilogy fame) was brought on to make the film-adaptation of Mark Millar's graphic novels do just that. Yet another starring role for actor James McAvoy, plus Angelina Jolie, and Morgan Freeman gave WANTED the immediate gravitas needed to get audiences interested in this story early on. Veteran composer DANNY ELFMAN was brought on to add his unique musical voice to this first part of a rumored trilogy.
From the dawning of the first teaser, I already picked up the scent of The Matrix all over this film. Some of the commonalities are no doubt coincidental others perhaps were unavoidable. The cubical-nerd, the sexy hit-woman, the African-American guru? Yes...that's the easy stuff to spot. There are more subtle connections to The Matrix as well. For most movie-goers, it seems that these similarities were no bother...in fact some revel in them. Unfortunately for me, I found myself thinking about those connections and not focusing on the story of WANTED like I should have. Accept for a few choice moments of action, the first half of the film was a surprisingly flat experience. When not thinking about Neo/Wesley, Trinity/Fox, Morpheus/Sloan, I was thinking, "Can this be it? Is this the movie so many are going ape over?" Is this all there is?" Thankfully, as the plot zigs and zags halfway through, the answer is a resounding "No!" Thankfully, in the blink of an eye, the plot gets turned on its ear and suddenly the story achieves escape velocity and leaves the dead-end gravity of the abundance of stylized violence. So how does DANNY ELFMAN's score fair in both the flat-half and the slap-you-in-the-face-pay-attention-half?