Wanted (2008)

Rated: R for strong bloody violence throughout, pervasive language and some sexuality.
Length: 108 minutes
Grade: C-FDC=C-
Budget: $75 million
Box Office: $341 million (134 U.S., 207 Intl.)

Written by: Michael Brandt and Derek Haas (3:10 to Yuma, Catch that Kid, 2 Fast 2 Furious), based on the comic book series by Mark Millar and JG Jones.
Directed by: Timur Bekmambetov (Russian films, including Nightwatch and Daywatch)
Starring: James McAvoy, Morgan Freeman, and Angelina Jolie.

A secret clan of assassins tries to recruit Wesley because he is one of a small handful of humans who (like them) have superhuman responses and special talents such as the ability to shoot bullets in curved paths. Their operation turns out to be based on a divine revelatory device, and his primary task is to kill the man who is trying to undo the order and assassinated his father.

Entertainment Value: C-
Eh. I think the problem here was that this felt very much like a movie made on the basis of something else, like a comic book, but not made well enough to stand on its own if you didn’t already love the source. There are much, much, much better films in this genre, such as Matrix, Equilibrium, The Jackal, or The Replacement Killers, and this one never really got there for me. I’m beginning to worry that Morgan Freeman accepts any movie that wants him and, hence, is not a reliable indicator of script quality. But, for an essentially mindless action movie, this was fine, except for the following.

Superficial Content: F
Drugs/Alcohol C, Sex/Nudity D, Violence F, Language D, Illegal Activity F
There are a couple of jarring sex scenes in the beginning. The language is constant and graphic, including dangerous driving, knife-fights, people being beaten/tortured, and lots of gun violence. Language is also constant and graphic (Kids-in-Mind counted 44 F words). The whole plot is about assassination, which is still illegal most everywhere. This is definitely R-rated. Not at all something for younger viewers.

Significant Content: D
God (whatever He is) communicates His Will obscurely through missed stitches in a tapestry machine which then code instructions for assassins to do the greater good by killing bad people. It’s sort of a Bible Code mentality. The end message is to beware people who demand unquestioning loyalty, because what looks like a useful secret society might actually be an evil cult. Power corrupts. Everyone has a destiny. The ends justify the means.

Artistic/Thought Value: C
This is a movie that could have been stylistically much different, but the director gives you a real cue as to what to expect here. This is a Russian film, not an American one, and the same high-vulgarity and garish style that you see in Day Watch are on display here. Ugly and unsubtle is what I would call it. Still, the underlying premise raises a few interesting questions potentially. One thing I found interesting is that The Fraternity primarily demands that others pay for their agenda, whereas Christianity only demands that we members sacrifice for our agenda.

Discussion Questions:
~In what ways does Christianity differ from The Fraternity, and in what ways are they similar? Consider prophecy, membership, qualifications, openness of information, and purpose?
~Is truth based on secret knowledge or openly accessible revelation?
~One idea in this movie is that everyone has a destiny and the only way to be in control is to cooperate with that plan. What do you think? Why is it so hard to discover your destiny?
~What do you think of the assertion that apostles are to only deliver, never interpret their messages?
~Do you think we should question messages we get from God? What about prophetic messages delivered by people who claim they are from God?
~What is morally objectionable about assassination? What about vigilantism?
~Do you agree with Wesley’s assessment that he has taken control of his life? What message is he trying to convey to us? Is it a good one?
~One of the key points Sloan uses to sell Wesley on The Fraternity is that it will give him an identity. Why is this such a tempting approach for people? Name as many organizations or entities as you can which offer this promise to people, both legitimate and illegitimate ones. What is the Christian perspective on this?
Overall Grade: C-
I was disappointed, probably because I was expecting something that was both better-conceived and better-executed. In the final analysis, I still for the life of me can’t understand why swinging a gun would in any way be connected with imparting a curved flightpath to the bullet. If you can make bullets curve, you can surely do it just as much with a stationary gun as with a swung one, given that both impart an equally straight vector according to Newtonian physics.

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