mick lasalle says there are two ways of viewing the film: “(1) as a go-for-broke action movie of mixed quality and modest but definite entertainment value, or (2) as a sick, sick movie for a sick, sick public.” 90% of the time when a person says there are two types of people in the world or there are two ways of viewing something, they’re wrong. lasalle makes a habit of being wrong so it comes as no surprise that he falls into the 90% here.
wanted is a fantasy film much in the mold of the matrix and fight club. you’ll recall the furor over fight club because some idiots were too dense to grasp the real meaning of fight club and, rather than subject themselves to introspection and thinking about the modern condition, they beat each other up in the “monkey see, monkey do” mold. in “wanted” we have one of my favorite types of film: a film about the modern condition. incidentally, the modern condition films are only slightly less satisfying than the apocalypse films. in the films that highlight the modern condition there is an acknowledgment of the ills of modern living. in the apocalypse film, modern living is turned to chaos, and those are therefore more fulfilling. wanted has all the usual clichés of the cubical living and the ikea furniture and the cheating girlfriend and horrible boss. sure these are lazy clichés, but they also ring true to a lot of people and, while we might not have all of the above symptoms, at least a few of those will resonate with most viewers. so, cliché, yes, but not as bad as clichés normally are.
where the film goes wrong isn’t in the fantasy of wanting to get out of the rut, the rat race that is modern life. rather, it goes wrong in some of its execution. the clichés are obvious and the plot is iffy. but this is a fantasy film and it makes that clear within the first few minutes. it doesn’t stack up philosophically to films like fight club and the matrix, though it steals from them in an effort to meet their success. with a stronger writer the film might have worked better. danny elfman’s music could have used some work too.
lasalle says that “few people who see “Wanted” will bother to think about it,” but that isn’t saying much. few people who watch anything truly think about it. the film inspires thought and action for those paying attention. i must say that i enjoyed the ending line “what the fuck have you done?” which is a reference to minor threat’s song “in my eyes” (a song about, among other things, making a difference in the world) which ends with the lines: “at least i’m fucking trying, what the fuck have you done?!”Watched in theater