13 July 2008


I was all inspired and ready to write about this movie, but then I happened to read Christopher Orr's review of it in TNR and, lo and behold, he'd basically said everything I was going to. But so it goes. Perhaps I can add something worthwhile.

So to begin with, the special effects are AWESOME. The movie looks fantastic. The stunts are badass. The bending bullet paths business might be hooey, but it looks pretty neato. And the movie is highly diverse in its "action", aka gore. It's bloody and raw and carnal and great. Totally sweet.

At the same time though, never have I been so keenly aware that an action movie is basically a porn that substitutes violence for sex. Actually, that's inaccurate. The more I think about it, the more it seems to me that this is NOT in that the case for most action movies. Actually, I would argue, most action movies are like picaresque novels of yore; rollicking adventure stories, characters a bit flat, plots rather crude, but a good time nonetheless. There's an escapist dimension to them, and certain political/socio-cultural elements encoded within their logic, but overall, it's a fun loving genre that evinces a certain warmth towards humanity at large. There are bad guys, yes, but there are also good guys, and their friends and families, and even if the hero is a ramblin' lone star type of creature, family and friends are generally accepted as a good thing.

In Wanted, on the other hand, humanity is largely evacuated. It's all survival and cold calculation. No one can be trusted, let alone depended on. The moment that you let your guard down is sure to be your last. Most striking, however, is the complete lack of sex in this movie - the erotic is completely replaced with violence. If there is sex, it's essentially another potential weapon or tool for humiliation. There's no passion or warmth to it at all. In fact, the only really human physical encounters between people are violent ones; a punch to the face, the final twist of a knife. And these have a definite erotic dimension - there's something satisfying about them.

So essentially, the film is, as stated before, a porn, but with violence instead of sex. The plot is about as inane as that of a porn, except that the cable guy turns out to be some kind of ninja who may or may not be double-crossing a bunch of people for money and possibly possesses some kind of biological superpowers. Or something. In other words, despite being fairly complicated (I'm still a bit confused about one aspect of it, so if you're reading this and haven't seen the film yet, which would be strange but who knows, or if you have - can you perhaps provide me with a transcript or summary of the conversation that the guy on the roof has over the phone with the other guy? I'm being vague, in case you haven't seen it, but if you watch it, you'll know what I'm talking about - it turns out to be highly relevant to one's ultimate understanding of the plot), it's completely ridiculous. It's a great pity, actually - Bekmambetov has really gone downhill. I maintain that Nightwatch is an absolutely brilliant film, phenomenal special effects - that are not only badass, but also creative and interesting - and a genuinely intelligent plot. Daywatch, on the other hand, is all big budget flashy effects and a completely inane and insanely complex plot. And I guess he's just gonna continue down that route. What a pity.

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