Posted at 10:32 AM on June 26, 2008
by Euan Kerr
I'm still not entirely sure how to say Timur Bekmambetov, but after the release of "Wanted" with Angelina Jolie, James McAvoy and Terrence Stamp this weekend, a lot of people are going to know his name.
"Wanted" is a high octane, comic book-powered, CGI-injected thrill-ride which begins with a poor office drone of a schlub Wesley Gibson (McAvoy.) His life is in the dumpster. He hates his job, his boss is a manipulative jerk, and his girlfriend is sleeping with his best friend.
He begins having what he thinks are panic attacks. However one day he learns that what he is experiencing is actually his heart rate going up to 400 beats per minute which gives him incredible reflexes and makes him a candidate for an ancient order of assassins who are extremely good at what they do.
He learns this after a rogue assassin tries to do him in at the drug store, and he survives only because Fox (Jolie) steps in to use her driving skills and her ability to shoot round corners.
Now this is all just in the first 10 minutes or so, and Bekmambetov who wowed Russian audiences with the delightful "Nightwatch" and "Daywatch," keeps the action going with twists and turns that keep the audience guessing.
There's even a little philosophizing on the ethics of assassinations, although it's really more of a way of giving backstories to the characters than applying deeper logic.
Bekmambetov's great skill is in the way he uses alternative perspectives in key moments. We understand the assassins' almost supernatural skills by getting a bullets-eye view of some of the action. He also makes use of his actors well, with Jolie's calm as Fox even in the midst of hair-raising battle smoothing away Wesley's (McAvoy's) wild panic. Morgan Freeman as Sloan the leader of the assassins and Terrence Stamp as a mysterious gunsmith heighten all of the storms with their millpond calm.
This is definitely one of the most satisfying confections of the summer so far. Now I just have to learn that pronunciation.