While WANTED broke the string of comic book movies opening at #1, it was still boffo, with $51.1 million at the box office. It also set some R-rated records:
“Wanted” scored the best opening ever for an R-rated film released in June and the sixth best of all time for any R-rated pic. Film, also starring Morgan Freeman, placed No. 2 for the weekend and played well across ethnic groups. U said it’s already eyeing a sequel.
Now this is interesting, because at the Friday screening we attended, the audience seemed to be, well, demoralized by this film. The Beat was the ONLY person to clap at the end (a nod to comics pals Mark Millar and JG Jones)–which was pretty shocking given the hype for the movie, the relentless action and the packed theater. After the screening, we noted a bunch of young men looking glum as they waited outside the restrooms — apparently their dates had been so appalled by the movie (probably the rat gimmick near the end) that there was no hope of getting lucky later on.
Was the big turn-off for the audience the moral ambiguity of this MATRIX meets FIGHT CLUB mash-up? Perhaps the idea of rooting for bad people for two hours was more than the audience could bear. Afterwards, we were shocked to overhear a cluster of young men dissing the film. “It was so unreaslistic!” one complained. “Bullets can’t do that!” Like you could really make a flying suit that worked? The second week drop off on this movie could be fierce.
As for The Beat, we liked the movie just fine — we like moral ambiguity, and a kick-ass action movie that posits bad vs worse without any easy answers was long overdue. James McAvoy’s Midwestern accent was dead-on, and Angelina Jolie was scary good — she is the action hero for our times. Sure, without the Wachowskis having existed, director Timur Bekmambetov would have to make up a visual style on his own, but he uses what he’s piked up well and some of the action pieces (particularly those involving trains) are nifty. WANTED was a gripping action flick with some clever twists on the form. It’s also very violent and nihilistic, and knows it.