Thin on plot, but loaded with terrific visual effects, “Wanted” is a must-see for unfussy action buffs

By Clint Morris

They say absence makes the heart grow fonder – and in the case of bullet-time, wire-work, and slow-mo Kung Fu sequences, it’d be true.

It’s been a decade since The Wachowski, er, brothers (is that even the case, now that one of them is, well, not as ‘manly’ as he used to be?) blew our mind with their visual effectsy-groundbreaker “The Matrix” – and near just as long as we’ve seen one of the many copycat films (“Charlie’s Angels” and so on) that followed it. And thank friggin god – most of us had seen enough slowed-up action sequences to last a century.

There was enough bullet-time in the Keanu Reeves starrer to keep a dozen gun clubs open indefinitely, and enough wire work to put a circus performer out of business. The last thing you wanted to see in the early noughties was yet another actioner featuring slow-mo fight scenes or shooting bullets leisurely heading towards the screen.

The trick had been revealed, the magic had all but gone, and the excitement of seeing something spectacular and new had turned into something stale and well, meh.

Funny then, that those same techniques seen in “The Matrix” films has again been put to use in “Wanted”, a new actioner starring Angelina Jolie and Morgan Freeman, and they actually do impress. A lot. I don’t know whether they’re better, or whether they’re even different effects than we’ve previously seen, but one thing’s for sure, they knock your socks off!

The break did us some good.

There are moments in “Wanted” that absolutely blow your mind – see cars flip and spin as you’ve never seen before, see men dive out of buildings and soar across rooftops like never before, and see slow-moving bullets soar towards heads… and actually be impressed by such a sequence. Again.

The film, based on a series of graphic novels, tells of a weedy desk-jockey (James McAvoy) whose informed by a hot spy (Angelina Jolie) that his father, also a spy, has just been killed. The ‘Fraternity’, an ageny of assassins run by a sinister Morgan Freeman, train the boy to be a man so he can take down the rogue that killed one of their own. (Nothing is what it seems though – I’ll just say that).

There’s a plot here – – but truth to be told, the power of “Wanted” is in it’s over-the-top and amazing effects. The performances, the storyline and the direction comes second.. even third… to the computer-aided stunts.

As a film, “Wanted” is the fluff that hangs from the fluff that’s disattached itself from a larger ball of fluff – no brainer is an understatement – but as a demo for what can be accomplished on a top-of-the-range computer, it’s a sensational sales tool.

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