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Whoa! Wanted sets off the fireworks BIG TIME. This is the heart stopping, extreme summer action movie of your dreams.


Based on a graphic novel, the violent tale revolves around Wes (James McAvoy), a meek 25 year-old office worker who hates his life. His boss berates him, and he can't even summon the balls to tell his slutty girlfriend to stop sleeping with his best buddy. But his world is suddenly rocked when Fox (Angelina Jolie)--a mysterious, tattooed woman with a gun and a red sports car--takes him on the ride of his life. She takes him straight to The Fraternity, a centuries old legendary group of hired assassins who live--and die--by their code: Kill one to save a thousand. Seems Wes' long-lost father was a member who has just been whacked, and he is now summoned to join up and unleash the inner killer in his genes. After a rigorous training regimen in which he is almost beaten to a pulp, he emerges as the organization's new golden boy and finds self-esteem in his new exciting alternative lifestyle. However, the group's enigmatic leader Sloan (Morgan Freeman) may have other plans in store for Wes that he isn't quite sharing at the moment.


McAvoy simply rocks as the most unexpected action star of the summer, and that includes a season so far that has given us the quirky offbeat castings of Robert Downey Jr. and Edward Norton in Marvel comic book franchises. McAvoy (Atonement) has buffed up for the part but still looks like the average Joe, exactly why the audience has a rooting interest as he becomes a fish-out-of-water in a group of hit men (and women). You're with him all the way. This unusual choice is exactly what sets the film apart and makes it a complete original in an over-worn genre. Jolie, on the other hand, is absolutely who you would expect to play the heavily tatted Fox. Guns blazing, feet slamming the pedal, gorgeous and talented at taking guys out (of life), Jolie's a card-carrying member of a club previously thought only open to men. She exudes cool and has never looked hotter. Freeman is at his best. He commands the screen adding his usual stoic presence to the proceedings with a nice twist that lets him show a creepier side than we usually get. Other members of the "club" are competently played by ever-reliable Terence Stamp, German-born bad guy Thomas Kretschmann and rapper Common, who shows he can keep up with the big boys--acting and other-wise.


Hiring the Russian director Timur Bekmambetov for a summer action flick like this might have seemed an odd choice but anyone who's seen his Hollywood-style homebaked hits, Night Watch and Day Watch would know this is a visual stylist with no current equal in the action genre. His English-language debut is vibrant and pulsating, alive in every way and thankfully more comprehensible story-wise than his previous work, if no less fantastic. You still have to completely suspend belief for complete enjoyment, but it's all worth it. Bekmambetov seems incapable of staging anything in an ordinary way, taking routine set-ups and turning them into violent, bruising works-of-art. There's not a single uninteresting shot in the entire movie which moves like the speeding train we see in one of the film's most imposing sequences. Scene for scene this may be the most visually inventive, trail blazing film of its kind in light years. Bring on the sequel.

Bottom Line rated this film 4 stars.