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Directed by: Timur Bekmambetov
Cast: James McAvoy (Wesley Gibson), Morgan Freeman (Sloan), Angelina Jolie (Fox), Terence Stamp (Pekwarsky)

Mark Millar’s comics mini-series Wanted contains all the elements that make him such a hugely entertaining writer, and such an aggravating one. To produce something palatable for multiplex audiences, this adaptation has had to chuck out a lot of the bathwater, and some might think the baby’s gone flying with it, too. It’s Millar-lite. In the comic, pathetic office-maggot Wesley Gibson learns his absent father (now deceased) was actually the Killer, a supervillain assassin in the world-ruling Meta-Human Criminal Network.

In the movie, Wesley (an impressive James McAvoy) learns his absent father (now deceased) was just one of many super-assassins in The Fraternity, a secret society that shapes the planet’s destiny.

As changes go, it’s a biggy. Also gone, for the most part, are the comic’s scabrous use of swearwords and homophobic epithets, nihilist slaughter of innocent bystanders, blithe references to rape and general vibe of borderline misogyny – nearly all the things that, depending on your personal viewpoint, are either “realist” or juvenile, and that either stimulate or disgust you.

Sadly, newcomers also lose out on the cream of the crazed Scot’s ferocious imagination, such as Shithead, a monster made from the faeces of Ed Gein and Hitler. Next to these, the movie’s new ideas are scant compensation. The silver lining is that there’s a whole new set of twists to enjoy for those in the know.

The end result is a kind of action movie take on Fight Club, with every character cast to type (Morgan Freeman provides gravitas, Angelina Jolie is sexy and dangerous). The sanity-defying stunt sequences, in which cars fly through the air in the way they only can in videogames, are thrillingly outrageous. Bottom line, though: you’d be better off watching Fincher’s film (which is more intellectually nourishing) or reading the graphic novel (which is more provocatively liberal-teasing).

 

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