|Written by Noah Fleming|
|Tuesday, 09 December 2008|
"Wanted" is the high-octane action film that has been long for since "The Matrix." Combine "The Matrix" with "Ultraviolet" and "Hitman" and what you have is "Wanted." Angelina Jolie and James McAvoy light up the screen. Angelina Jolie fits perfectly in the role as Fox, a deadly assassin in a 1,000 year-old society known as "The Fraternity." After her role as Lara Croft, Jolie is right at home in this film. Newcomer James McAvoy plays Wesley Gibson, a mild-mannered accountant that hates his day job and feels like an utter disappoint.
After a leading assassin from The Fraternity is killed, Gibson is recruited to kill the trader to the society. Gibson has a special ability – a heightened sense, which Gibson mistakes as panic attacks. Honing this skill gives him unprecedented abilities. Well, actually not unprecedented as we saw many of them in "The Matrix," or at least versions of them. No longer do bullets fly in straight lines, nor are cars limited to the limitations imposed by physics.
The Fraternity recruits Gibson using his father's death (the leading assassin) as the draw. Determined to kill his father's killer, Cross, Gibson devotes all his energies to training. This consists of getting the crap beaten out of him by the fellow society's assassins. After only six weeks of training, he is a master at all the skills used in the film.
For 1,000 years the society used a weaving loom to determine whose fate was marked for death. The loom indicates the name of who is to be killed, noted through an elaborate binary code scheme in the patterns weave.
I won't delve any further into the film as to prevent spoilers. All I can say is that the plot moves in a fairly predictable way. Normally the twists would through the viewer for a loop. However, for some reason or another, everything seems familiar and is easy to see coming.
Universal gives us a 1080p/AVC MPEG 4 video transfer. While not top-notch, the image quality is definitely suitable to mainstream audiences. Overall the image contains vibrant colors and rich black levels. The contrast is spot on, with no blown out sequences. The action sequences are fluid and are full of textures and details. Grain is minimal and there is no edge enhancement or artifacting present. The opening sequence contains impressive depth. The shattering glass appears to leap right off the screen. There are a couple flaws however in the transfer. First, the skintones fluctuate in saturation. There are several instances in which the faces of the actors appear to be drained of color. This makes the imperfections in the make-up of the actors even more appear. Second, the fine details disappear during the textile factory scenes. The loom strands appear fuzzy throughout, which is jarring when the rest of the film is so rich in textures and details. "Wanted" is a fine video presentation worthy of adding to your Blu-ray collection.
The audio is right on par with the video, although I expected a bit more overall sound design. Universal sticks with its standard DTS-HD Master Audio track inclusion. There is not much in the way of dynamics for this film, as it is 90 percent action. The LFE channel is also slightly disappointing. For an action film I expected more bottom end to the soundtrack. The balance between music, dialogue and sound effects is great. Never is one more distinguishable than another. All elements fit nicely together. The dialogue is crisp and clear, never having to struggle to hear. The biggest disappointment is the lack of discrete effects placed and panned in the surround channels. The ambience in the rear channels is incredible. That is the saving grace. That alone creates a three dimensional soundscape. However, there were several opportunistic points in which discrete effects could have been extended or placed in the surround channels. Overall, it is a tight mix that is very enveloping.
Universal brings "Wanted" to Blu-ray with a decent package of bonus materials. (The film is also being released as a Special Collector's Edition, which contains a keepsake case and additional goodies.) Most all the material is presented in high definition on a BD-50 disc. The first featurette is a chat with the cast and their corresponding characters in the film. "Bringing the Graphic Novel to Life" is a short featurette on the film's comic origins. "Through the Eyes of Visionary Timur Bekmambetov" contains interviews with the cast and crew as to the director of the film's abilities. "The Art of the Impossible" covers all the special abilities of the characters in the film. "Stunts on the L Train" deals with the fancy footwork on top of a moving train. "From Imagination to Execution" looks at the pre-production of the film. Motion Comics is a series of comic pages from the original comic series. "The Making of Wanted: The Game" takes a look at the upcoming videogame based on the film. There are no deleted scenes, but there is an extended scenes and alternate opening. Exclusive to the Blu-ray is a picture-in-picture track, which primarily consists of the above mentioned featurettes. The Motion Comics can also be accessed during flm playback. "Assassin Profiles" brings up graphics and text about the characters during the film. The BD-Live functionality of the disc allows for users to text chats during the playback of the film as well as create and share your own video and audio commentaries. Sadly there are no director or cast audio commentaries. Lastly, there is a Digital Copy of the film provided on a standard DVD disc.
"Wanted" is an action film that might not keep you on the edge of your seat, but get past the first 20 minutes and you'll enjoy the rest. Crank up the sound and give your speakers a workout with the all the gunfire that is present. The visual effects will also blow your mind. Definitely worth a look.