Killer Instinct

okay, finally got outta the house and saw Wanted, the action-packed adaptation of the Mark Millar and J.G. Jones coming-of-age supervillain graphic Novel of the same name... and i'm convinced that i kinda need to write two reviews, evaluating it separately as a comics adaptation and a summer blockbuster action movie, but alas, i am not that dedicated, so you'll only get one review...
and if this was pass fail, it'd pass as an action movie. the story, which follows Wesley Gibson's transformation from spineless loser to gun-clapping badass thanks to his recruitment into the Fraternity of Assassins, is executed neatly in the American directing debut of hotshot russian filmsmith Timur Bekmambeton (NightWatch, Daywatch). Wanted's action sequences are fun, fast and so abundant you barely have time to ask yourself if you can believe them. Jolie is convincing as Fox, Wesley's mentor and trainer, and Morgan Freeman is even better as Sloan, the ice-cold patriarch of the Fraternity. Wanted packs more than enough punch for any action movie fan... Jolie brings to mind Charli Baltimore's stone-grilled killing machine, with a hint of depth we see very little but can tell is there (please tell me you guys have seen Long Kiss Goodnight written by the immortal Shane Black?), and her chemistry with McAvoy is good, too.
i would probably gush more over the casting if the comic hadn't cast the characters so well to begin with! i mean, who wouldn't LOVE to have seen Eminem as the clueless Wesley Gibson, transformed by the Fox (played by Hallie Berry, of course) into the murderous savant The Killer, following in the footsteps of Tommy Lee Jones, his dear old dad!? sure, McAvoy is probably a better actor, but nothing i saw leads me to believe Em couldn't have pulled it off just as well. having Eminem in the film would have likely helped the film's box office (which came in second last week to Wall-E, and will pro'lly not come in on top this week either), and contributed to at least a few hipHop songs being added to the soundtrack (no hip hop on the soundtrack? BOOOO!)... but unfortunately, some kinda beef between Mark Millar and Eminem's people killed that likelihood...
anyways, i understand why filmmakers would shy away from the silver-age parody elements of the comic (not to mention characters with names like Shit Head and Fuckwit), but there are tons of ways they could have stuck closer to the source material, and most of them would also have made for a better movie. i mean, the Pseudo-religious cult of Assassins whose victims are chosen by Fate is pretty cool, but not nearly so much as an omnipresent league of superhuman killers who are able to rule the world in secret because they have collaborated to systematically murder all the good guys who might have opposed them!
most of the changes were motivated by the desire to make this film appeal to as many people as possible by not offending anyone, and that's why it doesn't work as an adaptation. the story suffers because it needs to keep Wesley redeemable: he can't kill his ex, his best friend or his boss (even though we, the audience, want him to) because this popcorn film needed him to become a hero by the end. the comic pulled no such punches. Millar's Wes kills, rapes, and pillages at will. Millar was not planning on redeeming Wesley, and as a result, created a more interesting and attractive character who makes no apology for becoming a villain... in fact, only the horrific Mister Rictus made Wes look halfway human by comparison in the comic! the edginess of the comic is one of the things that makes it hot, and i don't think enough of that heat makes it onto the screen.
so anyways, to summarize, Wanted the Summer Action Film gets an A- for dope action and good pace, acting and overall direction. but Wanted the Comics Adaptation gets a C because it just doesn't bring as much punch as the comic. the missteps come from trying not to offend, which totally abandons the spirit of Millar's writing. Overall, Wanted gets a B. if you are a comics nerd who just NEEDS it to be up to the standard of the comic, skip it. people who hated the comic may actually enjoy the movie (i can elaborate if you want...), so they should check it out. everyone else who isn't feelin' anything else out, peep it. it's good ignorant fun!

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