Wanted

I went to see Wanted at the weekend, and I have to confess that I loved it. Because Dipesh’s view on the movie is diametrically opposed to my own, I wanted to try to post something up about the movie before he does (if he ever does).

However, before I do that, I want to first talk about the comic from which it was adapted.

I had heard only a little about the comic before I saw the movie. On Monday, I took the next logical step; I purchased the trade paperback and read it in one sitting.

I should start by saying that the comic, created by Mike Millar and J. G. Jones, is very different from the movie. The comic, like most American comics, is heavily preoccupied with superheroes and supervillains. It tells the story of Wesley Gibson, a lonely young hyperchondriac who stumbles into an exciting secret world of crime when he discovers his estranged father was The Killer, one of the most ruthless supervillains that ever lived. Wesley slowly develops his inherited abilities to become deadly and discompassionate in his own right. The story, which chronicles Wesley’s steady corruption, turns the traditional coming of age tale on its head.

Because Wesley Gibson starts off as the archetypal downtrodden loser, it forces the reader to ask some difficult questions. His metamorphosis draws obvious parallels with Neo from The Matrix, who transcends his dull, cubicle-dwelling existence to become a demi-god, winning the girl and saving the human race in the process. In turn, I think it’s fair to say that Neo has his roots in comic book characters like Spider-Man, Superman, Hulk, Daredevil; characters whose identities begin as pathetic and bullied. The change from zero to hero is adolescent wish fulfillment, and what Wanted cleverly highlights is that it’s borne out of violent, selfish impulses. In The Matrix, when Neo walks into a bank and shoots dozens of innocent security guards, we’re told it’s okay to revel in the violence because the security guards are in fact all mindless automatons, their deaths don’t matter. Although it all looks exactly like senseless killing, we’re off the hook. Wanted hurls the reader into an utterly amoral universe and removes the flimsy pretexts. If you enjoy the story and root for Wesley, you’re forced to ask how much morality really matters so long as your adolescent fantasies are acted out.

That’s the comic, so what about the movie?

The movie is exactly the sort of mindless adolescent fantasy that the comic spends its time dissecting. It’s such an ironic piece of filmmaking, it’s hard to think of a precedent; perhaps if Schindler’s List had been filmed by Nazis, or Malcolm X by the Ku Klux Klan. Somewhere along the line, someone completely missed the point. The action and violence in the comic is parody, but in the movie it’s without humor. There is little or no sense that tongue is in cheek (not even when Morgan Freeman waxes lyrical about the “Loom of Fate” or the fraternity’s hideout is destroyed by suicide-bombing rats).

Perhaps if I had read the comic before I saw the movie, I’d be outraged. For sure, it’s kind of sad that Hollywood is so incapable of treating comics with the respect they deserve. The truth is, though, the comic is unfilmable without major alterations. For all that the movie seems improbable, the comic is ten times more silly (despite possessing an intelligent core). It’s just hilarious that they took what they did from the story. I am nothing but amused by the situation. I like to think that Mark Millar and J. G. Jones are able to see the funny side, too, and that they’re chuckling as they spend their royalties.

So why exactly did I enjoy the movie so much?

Well, it was fast-paced, exciting, and full of chereographed violence. That’s usually enough to keep me entertained, because, whether I like to admit it or not, I am fuelled by a great number of adolescent desires. I think most people are (although possibly not to the same degree). The sooner they realise it, the sooner they’ll be able to enjoy movies without getting hung up on little things like reality.

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3 Responses to “Wanted”

  1. Okay… I didn’t read your review.
    I want to watch it first and then come back here and compare notes. From the gist of what you told me right after seeing it, I bet I won’t agree with Dip either.hehe.

  2. The film was so bad I wasn’t even going to bother blogging about it but now that Charlie has goaded me ino saying something about it see my blog.

  3. I did enjoy the movie. Sure I regret not going to a matinee show and saving myself a couple of bucks, but overall I liked it. Also, to add something from the comment on Dip’s page… don’t movies of this ilk usually start out with someone who is leading the normal, sometimes mundane, life? A life that gets turned upside down in extraordinary, never would happen in real life circumstances and get thrust into the do or die hero spotlight. In that sense, I believe plenty about this movie. hehe.

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