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Wanted

Year: 2008
Studio: Universal
Director: Timur Bekmambetov
Writer: Mark Millar
Cast: James McAvoy, Angelina Jolie, Morgan Freeman, Terence Stamp
Critics across the world really bought Timur (Night Watch) Bekmambetov's frenetic actioner, and I'm at a loss as to why.

It contained exactly the same coke-addled camerawork, clichéd cool and paper thin plot as (for example) Torque, another action movie that pasted over its many shortcomings by using quick cuts and a pace that didn't let up enough for you to see how stupid it was.

It's a boys' revenge fantasy as doltish office drone Wesley (McAvoy, in the worst casting since John Wayne as a Roman Centurion) learns he's actually descended from a secret society of skilled assassins.

He's bought into their fold by as many two-dimensional caricatures as the movie can handle (but which the comic book on which it's based is ultimately responsible) - the wisened, sage master (Freeman), the hot chick handler (Jolie, a charisma-free zone) and various brutal trainers and sidekicks.

Wesley is set to work as a master killer dispatching people from the Earth he doesn't even know because - believe it or not - a giant sewing machine tells the society to do so. But then - surprise surprise! - The Fraternity turns out to be the bad guys, the assassin tracking Wesley actually the father they told him was dead, trying to reach him and extract him from their corrupt clutches.

So Wesley goes rogue from the bad guys and dishes out Bekmambetov's style of justice - mythical etchings on bullets that can go around corners thanks to shoddy CGI and all.

It's for 12-year-old boys. This sort of can-do-anything-and-get-the-girl 'cool' was passé in the Stallone era, and I can't work out how so many reviews were so full of praise. A few inventive scenes with good effects such as the train falling into the ravine were well done but do not a movie make.

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