As somebody who works night shifts I rely on movies to keep me awake and pass the time, and recently I watched both of these movies on shifts, so here are my thoughts on them.
Wanted tells the story of Wesley (James McAvoy), a loser going nowhere in an office job he hates, a rubbish flat and a girlfriend who’s cheating on him with his best mate.
This all changes when he meets the mysterious Fox (Angelina Jolie) a gorgeous woman who rescues him from a would-be killer and takes him to meet The Fraternity, a shadowy organisation of assassins where Wesley is told by Sloan (Morgan Freeman) the group’s leader that his father was an assassin for the group and was killed by the man who chased him and Fox, Cross (Thomas Kretschmann), who’s betrayed the group.
Wesley is shown that he is capable of doing great things like shooting the wings of flies, but reluctant and scared he returns to his old life. However, finding himself wealthy due to his inheritance from his father he snaps and quits his job, beats up his former friend and storms out and joins the Fraternity where he begins to train in the hopes of tracking and killing Cross. This training involves being toughened up and taught how to “curve” bullets around corners and stuff to hit his target.
But is the Fraternity all it seems, and is the version of events he’s been told really the truth?
This is one dumb movie. I don’t have a problem with loud dumb movies, they can be quite fun and some of the bonkers OTT action on display here is rather amusing, but the problem is the movie doesn’t really hold up. The flipping cars, bullet time flourishes and bone crunching action sequence can’t cover up the fact that its a very weak movie.
Primarily the problem is McAvoy, who has this ability to be immensely irritating on screen. Even in films of his I’ve enjoyed (X-Men First Class, The Last King of Scotland) it’s there, this aura of wankerishness that he brings to characters sticks around and Wesley is pretty unlikable. At the start of the movie he’s a weak willed wimp who you just want to slap but then he morphs into this over confident, swaggering douche of an assassin. It’s hard to invest that much in a movie where you literally don’t care if the protagonist gets his ass kicked or not.
Also, the plot is fairly predictable and the twist is pretty easy to see coming.
On the whole the movie is just like Angelina Jolie’s performance as Fox. Sure it might look good, and carry itself like a badass, but ultimately it’s not as cool as it thinks it is and really quite a shallow pleasure. 4/10.
Next up is the vikings vs indians scrap of Pathfinder.
A young boy is plucked from the wreckage of a viking longboat by a Native American woman and raised within the tribe. Named Ghost for his pale skin he grows up with them but feels separated from the tribe, some of whom find it difficult to trust him even when he’s an adult (and morphed into Karl Urban).
Ghost is tormented by his memories and dreams of his past, and has kept his father’s sword which he has taught himself how to use. He wants to be one of the tribe’s braves but is left out as some distrust him because they believe he may have the violence in his blood. Ghost also has feelings for Starfire (Moon Bloodgood) the daughter of another chief, Pathfinder who is searching for a worthy replacement.
Another party of viking raiders arrives and massacres Ghost’s tribe and adopted family. The leader, Gunnar (Clancy Brown, playing a less madcap version of his role in Highlander) is intrigued by Ghost’s appearance and allows him to fight his right hand man, Ulfar (Ralf Moller). Ghost wounds him and flees, alerting Starfire’s tribe and telling them to run before setting off to face the vikings alone.
Ghost and Starfire are captured and he agrees to lead them to the other tribe, revealing that he can speak their language. Along the way he attempts to thin out their numbers and look for a way to escape.
This movie, like Wanted, is pretty dumb. Urban does his best as the brooding Ghost, and the feeling of him being an outsider is handled rather well, and the director, Marcus Nispel, does a good job with the action sequences and makes it all very visually striking, particularly the nightmarish look of the viking raiders.
The problem is that the movie drops the ball by making both groups utter cliches. The indians are the more modern view of them as peaceful, noble people who respect nature and show great wisdom, which means you know its going to come down to Ghost to kick some norse arse. Meanwhile, the vikings are caricature brutes with no character aside from liking killing people and viewing the tribesmen as inferior.
It’s sloppily done and robs the film of what should have been it’s major theme, the conflict between Ghost’s two people and which way he’ll go. By making the vikings bloodthirsty monsters there’s never any doubt that he’s going to side with his new people. Perhaps if the vikings had shown to accept him or show some warmth to him it might have been more interesting, but as is the only connections he seems to have with them are the colour of his skin and his ability to fight.
Urban does the fighting well and looks the part, even if at times the movie does feel like it’s his audition for Conan (which Nispel directed as well), and his relationship with Bloodgood’s character is handled well, and she makes quite a good, strong willed leading lady.
Some of the plot points are telegraphed very early on. As soon as one character makes a passing reference to an avalanche in the opening stages you’re waiting for another to arrive, and arrive it does.
That’s not to say it’s without merit, the fight sequences have this bloody, gory feel that works and Urban’s understated delivery grounds the film. Also, Nispel is known for horror movies (he helmed the remakes of Friday the 13th and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) he brings a nice visual flair to the flick, with the vikings’ horned helmets making them look like demons or something, which is probably how alien and otherworldly they’d seem to the Americans.
All in all it’s far from perfect but it’s a reasonably fun flick and the better of the two films. 5/10.
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.