Jaap Buitendijk, Universal Pictures
James McAvoy is a mild-mannered office worker who meets mysterious Angelina Jolie in "Wanted." <BR> <BR>
WANTED — ** 1/2 — James McAvoy, Angelina Jolie, Morgan Freeman; rated R (violence, gore, profanity, drugs, sex, vulgarity, brief nudity, slurs)

"Wanted" asks an awful lot from moviegoers.

Among other things, the movie asks audiences to completely suspend their disbelief, primarily by ignoring any and all notions they have about the physical laws and properties of the world in which we live.

The movie also asks that they be tolerant about some pretty objectionable film content. This is definitely what's known in the industry as a "hard-R," as its often-graphic violence pushes the envelope of what's acceptable to be shown on the big screen.

So if you're able to do that, there is some guilty fun to be had from this adaptation of the best-selling comic book miniseries. It takes the basic outline of the material and then goes off in a different, crazed direction.

James McAvoy stars as Wesley Gibson, a mild-mannered office worker who's prone to panic attacks.

It turns out he has good reason to panic. A mystery man (Thomas Kretschmann) is apparently trying to kill him, and he's recently been saved by a woman known simply as Fox (Angelina Jolie).

She works for Sloan (Morgan Freeman), who claims to be the head of an international guild of assassins. Sloan's people have seemingly superhuman abilities, especially with a gun and a bullet, and he's convinced Wesley does as well.

Russian filmmaker Timur Bekmambetov also directed the similarly eye-popping, horror-fantasies "Night Watch" and "Day Watch." In some respects, this film makes them seem coherent or more believable.

But there's no denying that Bekmambetov can direct an exciting action scene. There are a couple of amazing vehicle chase sequences, as well as a breathtaking train scene that makes the film worth seeing.

As for McAvoy, he may be slight in frame but is surprisingly convincing as the nebbish-turned-tough-guy. And Jolie is in full slink mode and nearly replicates what she did in the hit comic thriller "Mr. & Mrs. Smith."

"Wanted" is rated R for strong scenes of violent action (shootings, stabbings, vehicular and explosive mayhem, and violence against women), some fairly graphic gore and blood, strong sexual language (profanity, crude slang and other suggestive talk), drug content and references (various behavioral medications), simulated sex and other sexual contact, vulgar slang terms, brief female nudity, and derogatory slurs. Running time: 110 minutes.


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