"Wanted" an audacious adrenaline rush

Fri Jun 20, 2008 8:40am EDT
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By Michael Rechtshaffen

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - It's good to be "Wanted."

The debut American feature by successful Kazakhstan director Timur Bekmambetov ("Night Watch" and its record-smashing 2006 sequel, "Day Watch"), this over-the-top, ultraviolent, hyperkinetic action thriller pretty much has it all.

That would include engagingly offbeat source material in the form of Mark Millar and J.G. Jones' comic book series, a decent adaptation by Michel Brandt and Derek Haas (last year's "3:10 to Yuma" remake) and Chris Morgan ("Cellular"), a terrific cast and jaw-dropping stunt work.

Then there's the visually charged talents of Bekmambetov -- a man who has funneled the best of the Wachowski brothers, Quentin Tarantino and contemporary Hong Kong action movies through his own wry sensibility.

Capably establishing the anything-goes tone of the Los Angeles Film Festival in its capacity as Thursday's official curtain-raiser, the Universal guilty pleasure should make plenty of noise, especially with young males, when it opens nationally on June 27.

James McAvoy, sporting a swell American accent, is certain to build on his big-screen appeal as Wesley Gibson, a put-upon account executive who discovers that his long-absent father belonged to a centuries-old league of supersensory assassins known as the Fraternity.

It also turns out that Gibson is a chip off the old block in the killing department, but before he can avenge his father's death, he must get into fighting shape with a little help from the Fraternity's Zen master of a leader, Sloane (Morgan Freeman), and tough-cookie Fox (Angelina Jolie, in sinewy "Mr. & Mrs. Smith" mode).

The three of them prove to be colorful assets in a film where even the bullets seem to have a personality all their own.   Continued...

<p>Scottish actor James McAvoy poses during a photocall to present his new film 'Wanted' in Berlin June 10, 2008. REUTERS/Johannes Eisele</p>