2008’s Wanted was designed exclusively for the summer audience. Brimming with noisy effects, ridiculous action sequences, and Angelina Jolie, it is a rowdy rock-and-roll thrill ride that can be a lot of fun to watch. It also, regrettably, can seem like a bit of a chore. Inconsistent, uneven, and often careless, this Timur Bekmambetov film is highly conventional and fiercely passé.
Bekmambetov’s Hollywood debut is based on Mark Millar’s comic book miniseries of the same name. Millar’s comic is barely recognizable, however, as the tone, characters, and story arc of the film differs astonishingly from the source material. Millar’s Wanted works because it is the antithesis of the hero story, creating a world of supervillains bent on living out their existence with ego, arrogance, and bright costumes. But Bekmambetov does away with the villain concept, sketchily inserting some of the mythos but using screenwriters Derek Haas, Michael Brandt, and Chris Morgan to retool the whole thing.
Wesley Gibson (James McAvoy) is a young man with a dead-end job, a cheating girlfriend, and anxiety issues. He considers himself a failure. One day, Gibson’s life changes when he meets Fox (Jolie), a mysterious assassin. Fox takes Gibson to meet The Fraternity, a secret society of assassins led by Sloan (Morgan Freeman). Wesley learns that his father was an assassin with The Fraternity and Sloan wants him to follow in his father’s footsteps. After learning about the possibility of a new life as an assassin, Wesley leaves his old job and joins The Fraternity.
After being trained, Wesley is shown the Loom of Fate. This mechanism gives the names of the targets of The Fraternity. Woven into pieces of fabric and interpreted through binary code, the Loom of Fate identifies those who will cause tragedy in the future. The Fraternity is dispatched to head off the catastrophe and, as Fox says, “kill one, save a thousand.” As Wesley becomes more engrossed in The Fraternity, he learns more about his father, the truth, and the reality behind the Loom of Fate.