Directed by Timur Bekmambetov (R)
An average Joe joins a worldwide team of assassins.
Wanted “slams you to the back of your chair from the outset” and never lets up, said Todd McCarthy in Variety. The “relentless, in-your-face” action movie marks the American debut of Russian director Timur Bekmambetov, who in his home country broke box-office records with the “two highest-grossing films in Russian history.” Wanted stars a “beefed-up” James McAvoy as a regular guy recruited by Angelina Jolie to join Fraternity, an ancient order of assassins that metes out ruthless justice. Countless scenes show off Bekmambetov’s “muscular visual skills,” as he continuously pumps up the action and “devilishly” injects as much extreme violence as possible into these 110 minutes. It gets to be too much, said David Ansen in Newsweek. As the “body count rises, so does the portentous tone” of the film. Bekmambetov ends up whipping his creation into an “expressionistic frenzy.” This heavy-handedness ruins the film, said Anthony Lane in The New Yorker. Wanted could have been a “boyish, pop-eyed fantasy.” Instead, this overeager Hollywood debut “warps into a welter of bloodletting” that’s excessively cruel.