Rating: 3 stars
How do you solve a problem like Angelina Jolie? To me, she is one of the great movie stars of our time. Notice I didn’t say great actress—although she certainly is a better than average one—I said movie star. When she’s on screen, you can’t take your eyes off her—she's almost ridiculously sexy and magnetic. (Hey, I may be a female, but I’m not blind.)
So why, may you ask, is this a problem? Well, two reasons. For one, it’s hard to find the right role for her. This is partly her own fault, her do-goodism (and desire for another Oscar?) often leads her to well-intentioned but DOA films like A Mighty Heart and Beyond Borders. Superhero adventurer Lara Croft seemed like the right role, except both Tomb Raider movies sucked. Mr. and Mrs. Smith was pretty good (at least for the first half), but Brad Pitt couldn’t quite keep up with her.
Which leads to the other problem: The woman—and I don’t know how else to put this—is a maneater. Every actor she works opposite seems timid and emasculated in her presence, even a stud like Brad. (I’d like to see her work with George Clooney, he’s pretty much the only guy I can see going toe-to-toe with her.)
With all that in mind, Wanted is a near perfect Angelina Jolie vehicle. Her character is supposed to be ridiculously sexy and powerful, that’s part of the joke. And our hero, Wesley (cutie patootie James McAvoy) isn’t supposed to be her physical or sexual equal, he’s a worker drone, saved from his bland cubicle existence by Jolie’s Fox, who tells him that he’s actually a member of an elite group of super assassins.
Sounds silly? It is—an overly directed, hyper-adrenalized combination of Fight Club and The Matrix. But it’s also a lot of fun.
The opening scenes, showing Wesley in his office, with his cruel boss snapping staplers in his ear, are played way too broadly. Not only is Wesley victimized by his vulgarian boss—fat and rouged, she dresses like Mimi from The Drew Carey Show—his best friend is shtupping his girlfriend. Oh, the humanity.
Anyway, all that changes when Wesley goes to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription for his anxiety attacks. Suddenly, he turns and—pow!—there’s Jolie, smirking at him expectantly. And then—pow!—a gunman is shooting at her. Jolie shields him from bullets, throws him around a bit, scoops him up in her sports car—and away we go.
To read the rest of this review, check out the August issue of Baltimore.