not wanted

Nobody seems willing to admit that the movie Wanted is a complete piece of shit, a stupid, headache-inducing, senseless piece of shit. For two seconds of Angelina Jolie's lithe back and backside, it is not worth sitting through the other 88 minutes of adolescent male entitlement wankfest.

Before I saw the movie, I read the Mark Millar comic on which the film is really, really loosely based. The comic is fantastic. Its premise? That we live in a degraded world run by a cabal of supervillains who have literally reshaped the universe to make sure that we all lead pathetic pointless lives. The main character is plucked out of cubicle hell to take his place in the ranks of the entitled and amoral. Millar shows that comics aren't about goodness and nobility; those are veneers designed to make the fantasies of license and power acceptable.

The movie version promptly misunderstands the entire point of the original by taking the premise and overlaying it with a veneer of acceptability. The villains are instead a group of noble assassins who take their marching orders from a loom. That's right, a loom. This is some weak soup that the filmmakers are sipping on. Anyway, because there's a loom that tells people what to do, it's okay to kill random folks. I won't give away any twists, which include corruption and the usual Oedipal folderol about father-and-son relationships, without which no Hollywood movie could possibly get made. And there are moments of humour that produce a chuckle or two.

But all of these criticisms pale next to the fact that Angelina Jolie has gone on a backpacking trip into the uncanny valley. Through whatever combination of exercise, surgery and aging, she no longer looks quite human. At first I assumed that she was cultivating a sphinxlike immobility for the movie, but after a while it just started to creep me out. I get the feeling that Brad Pitt has to put her carefully in a carrying case every night.

I should have shaken the dust from my feet at the theatre door, but when I walked out of Wanted, I didn't dislike the film so much as feel a numbed apathy – I thought, “It was what it was”. The next night I had a nightmare, a death-driven adventure in a lawless wasteland. I woke up sweating, nauseated, as if I'd suffered a heart attack in my sleep. I realized that Wanted had soaked into my dreams, and I woke, knowing it for what it was (see opening paragraph).