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Blu-ray Review: Wanted

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For fans of Crank and Shoot-em-Up, Wanted should appeal to their very core. However, Wanted is both larger scale, better produced, and far more ambitious than those other films. It’s quite possibly one of the best action movies of the year.

James McAvoy stars as a truly average guy. He plays the role convincingly, and the film’s little visual touches such as the ATM further pull the audience into his character. When it comes time to find out that he’s actually a full-blooded assassin, it almost makes it too difficult to swallow. Thankfully, the rapid-fire pacing never lets a single thought linger in the viewer’s head.

Wanted is a true action movie. It’s loaded with one insane, stunt-filled, CG fest after another. Each one manages to one-up the previous with an even larger dose of adrenaline. Aside from the sometimes agonizing overuse of slow motion where not needed (the only reason the film reaches the 110 minute mark), Wanted never slows down.

Where the film makes its mark is in sheer visual beauty, even if beauty translates to brains splattered all over the screen. The concept alone of seeing a bullet push through someone’s head, only to go back through to find the source is ingenious. In execution, it’s even better. No, not all of the special effects work, particularly a set of cringe-inducing rats, but it wins you over in style and originality. This is bullet time taken to the next level.

Even if dialogue scenes tend to fly by quicker than many of the bullets, Wanted still carries a number of surprises along with it, though sadly without much in terms of character development. A plot twist halfway through is a fun stunner, and the finale carries the film’s best shot of a bullet careening through multiple skulls. Granted, it defies logic, physics, and all believability, but that’s what suspension of disbelief is there for.

It’s hard to call Wanted brilliant, but for what it is, it’s amongst the best of the year. It trumps garbage like Transporter 3 with both its originality and keen visual style. This is a fun, stylish romp that deserves to hold a place amongst the over-the-top action classics.

All of that visual craziness is transferred to Blu-ray flawlessly. This is an absolutely stunning disc, boasting phenomenal color and contrast. Black levels never falter, and the amount of detail is truly remarkable. Every scene is razor sharp, and even in long shots with loaded backgrounds, there is no visible artifacting. On top of that, there are no scenes of artificial enhancement. This is how all modern films should look.

Likewise, this DTS-HD audio track is simply superb. It tracks everything, from bullets, debris, down to machines working inside a textile factory. It’s immersive from the opening action sequence and never lets up. Bass is deep, powerful, and delivers that room shaking “boom” every chance it gets. Like the third Mummy film, this is one of the best of the year.

Sadly, the extras can’t quite keep up. Featurettes are far too brief, and first time US director Timur Bekmambetov doesn’t get a say in any kind of commentary. An alternate opening, which while visually nifty would have ruined a later scene of the film, starts things off. To go along with that is one (yes, just one) extended scene from the training portion of the movie.

Three different visual effects pieces should have been combined into one 18-minute segment. They focus on the different types of effects, and how specific shots were accomplished in decent if brief detail. Those who are interested in the comic the film is based on will take in The Origins of Wanted, interviewing the comics creator. Some animated comics are also tossed on the disc.

A featurette on the director lasts for nine minutes, and a feature on the cast and crew (although it does briefly cover other things) goes on for 20 minutes. Universal continues their use of U-Control “interactive” junk, although at least many of the features are accessible without having to use this inane set up. Finally, some basic BD-Live support houses an music video and gun featurette that will you have you wondering why these weren’t on the disc in the first place.

One of the victims of McAvoy’s assassinations is named Rictus. It’s a nod to the comics in which the villain is Mister Rictus.

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About Matt Paprocki

Matt Paprocki has critiqued home media and video games for 13 years and is the reviews editor for Pulp365.com. His current passion project is the technically minded DoBlu.com. You can read Matt's body of work via his personal WordPress blog, and follow him on Twitter @Matt_Paprocki.