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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.

Photo 38 Hires

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.


  1. I went to a Friday afternoon showing in a half filled house and a handful of people clapped at the end. I didn’t think it was bad, though I have a problem with some parts of the plot but overall I’m OK with it.

  2. Yay for Mark Millar, who I met once, way back when he was doing Superman Adventures (still one of the best Superman books ever) and there were still a lot of people telling him that he wouldn’t amount to much. Yes, there were people telling him that. By the way, he was the coolest guy. The one person who I know that saw it, told me they thought it was pretty cool, and that I should go see it. If you’re going to diss the movie after seeing it, as being unrealistic, then maybe you should pay attention to the previews a little better, before you pay your money. What did they think they were going to get? It’s an action movie. After seeing real guns go off, fights, and getting a good ol’ beat down from four gang members, I can tell you that no action movie is “realistic.” As far as Angelina Jolie goes, as a married man, I can’t express my views on her. I’ve already been told that if the opportunity arises, I am not to talk to her. :)

  3. Totally not a date movie.

    I think you’re getting a little too deep in your analysis though, Beatster… dates don’t like it because it’s too violent. That’s the reason. Heads explode. The final kill (I won’t ruin it) is pretty graphic. The end is only funny if you’ve got a dark sense of humor, and most people don’t. Most people will view it as ending on a “negative” note.

    These people are lame, but that’s also most of America.

    Jolie really did PWN it, though. I especially loved the look on her face and the little move when she lets McAvoy get away after their first meeting. The scene with the reunion with the GF, though, was straight up stupid.

    I liked it a lot and enjoyed the moral ambiguity. Most people wouldn’t, but it’s a bad date movie because it will freak most ladies out graphically, pure and simple.

    P.S. I never clap at the end of movies and find that it’s sort of random when people do. I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad sign if people don’t. I mean, who’s gonna hear it?

  4. The thing about the movie that I disliked was that they made the character far more moral than in the comic, which revelled in decadence. Jolie’s whole speech about why they need to execute their targets showed how the filmmakers shoehorned in some ethics.

    On another note I’ve never clapped at the end of any movie unless it was a special screening with the director present or something.

  5. Here in NYC, on opening day, or at screenings, it’s pretty usual to hear some applause after a rousing film — common enough that its absence this time stood out to me.

  6. @ BradyDale: “it’s a bad date movie because it will freak most ladies out graphically, pure and simple.”


    1. Most is not all. Maybe “some” or “most ladies that I know” or “the non-comic-lady-type lady” in this construction? ;) YMMV.

    2. It’s a bad date movie because it is a Bad. Movie. Freeman was phoning–nay, TEXTING–it in on this one, and as for the completely unrevelatory revelation of the parentage of the male lead, well, color me “meh” (which is eggshell, if you were wondering). Additionally, I never cared about any moral ambiguity because the characters, as played, were so thoroughly boring and bored. Srsly, how do you make a guild of weaver-assassins THIS bland!? I’ll differ totally with The Beat on the twists being “clever” (Luke, I am your father) but opinion makes the world go round, am I right?

    Luckily, the chases were full of lovely, unrealistic chasing goodness and it had that little “I don’t know what” that I love from the director (I lurv “Night Watch” and “Day Watch,” and Russian film in general). Timur, the Chicago setting (under the red line by The Pick Me Up!), and the fact that I was nicely buzzed from a beery afternoon got me through the film; nothing else would have done it. Not even Angie Jolie, who has been, for many years, my secret, shameful crush; this movie ain’t no “Hackers,” though.

    How does the film stack up to the Millar inspiration? I confess ignorance.

  7. I actually read “Wanted” last night in preparation, and then have been told the movie uses about 2% of the book, which I think could go either way (I enjoyed the book, I also don’t think it would need to be adhered to perfectly to be a good movie). As for heads popping, whatever, my husband’s the one who had to turn off Kill Bill.

  8. I make it a point never to read (or re-read) something right before a movie adaptation comes out. If I do, I always end up doing a point-by-point comparison in my head, and I don’t have a chance to enjoy the movie on its own merits (assuming, of course, that it has some).

  9. @ Nora. Sorry, sorry. You’re right, of course. I thought that was implied that naturally not every girl would hate it.

    Though, I’d argue that if you’re still on the first or second date rung of the ole romance ladder, I wouldn’t risk this sucker with ANY lady. Even she had a tattoo of a desert eagle on her bicep.

    That said, the movie that one of my ex’s and I jived on together the best was RESIDENT EVIL, of all freaking things, and I never would have said she’d like that, so you never can tell.

    Anyway, I liked WANTED. Except the GF not-reunion scene. That was way dumb.

    P.S. @Nora. Not sure if I agree with you about Freeman, but the comment made me giggle.

  10. @ BradyDale – “…a tattoo of a desert eagle on her bicep”

    No fair guessing. As for Freeman, it was just so flat, so tired, so…unnuanced (to me, during my viewing): “Loom here; spa down the hall; no, you don’t get a car yet, you have to take the train (…roof; fares have gone up!); lunch is at noon and then on to pig-sticking knife skills class. By the way, don’t bother wondering about all of this, alright? Just take it as relief from your demoralising day job & cuckholdry (sp?).”

    This is the cinematic love child of Fight Club and Office Space, babysat in its early teens by The Matrix. Surely there’s a better filmic legacy to be had for all three movies.

    Now, back to my demoralising day job. At least, until a secret guild of music theory professor/assassins recruit me into my late father’s hidden world of shady morals, diminished fifths, and thrilling train-based chases.

  11. @ Nora. Oh yeah… it’s pretty funny McAvoy’s character was never like… “Punch me in the face? This is HELPING??”
    But I’m a big believer of suspending disbelief in these cases.
    I’m a bad person to speak to Freeman’s performance, too. I generally view actors as slightly more interesting than animatronics. Maybe.
    They are really the last thing I assess a movie on, so I probably shouldn’t even express an opinion.
    Those bullet effects were neat, though, huh?

  12. People who clap at movies ought to see a shrink the very next day. Who in buttfudge Lincoln, Nebraska is going to hear you anyhow? It’s not like someone involved with the movie is going to hear the applause – and it’s going to come back unreciprocated

    Yes, last night in the movie theater that I saw it in Santa Monica- people were giving it a standing ovation.

    I wanted to shout out ‘ Sit the F-ing Hell down you freakin’ nutcases – but that voice inside my head refused separate itself from my larynx.

    I was really bowled over by it: considering that I’m not very familar with the source material.

    That whole train sequence made me squirm.



  13. oh – which reminds me.

    The next question you should ask Heidi – how long will it take for your date to start fidgeting in his or hers seat while watching the Dark Knight – especially if your date is not a big Batman fan?

    According to Kevin Smith’s blog on myspace – it’s a near three hour opus.



  14. Is the Wanted movie really morally AMBIGUOUS? The movie I saw was pretty blatantly amoral by any standard I can imagine. I mean, the great treachery in the story was that Morgan Freeman started having people killed for selfish reasons, rather than because of what a a LOOM told him to do. In either scenario, the killing is indefensible!

    Not that I didn’t enjoy Wanted. Tip-top action, great swearing.

  15. Unrealistic? Realism is what documentaries are for. I wonder what that person would have said if it had been a “faithful” adaptation.

    We got in a great conversation afterwards and I got to sound cool and geeky and explain the differences between it and the comic…the crowd here in Detroit (maybe thats the reason) had a different response to what I heard above and got all the appropriate laughs and claps (though I could see it going completely different with another crowd)…first packed Friday movie I had been to in forever…and generally enjoyed it, even though I’m usually not that huge on actiony stuff that isn’t 2-d paper.

    I had issues with some of the changes made and could blab for awhile, but generally I thought this movie was a ton of fun (as I work in a office setting now and was in college during the comic…sooooo it got a bit more relatable).

  17. While it appears to have assimilated certain aspects of other movies such as the Matrix, Wanted’s greatest strength is that it has a refreshingly “different” feel about it. The cinematography is outstanding, James McAvoy is scarily believable in the role and Mark Millar’s concept of the incredibly bored underchallenged McAvoy will resonate with millions of graduates working in mind-numbing jobs. This is a film that (over?)stimulates the senses and will be talked about for a long time to come!

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