By time time Wanted got over, the only thought remaining in my mind was: What if one were to make it in Tamil with Vadivelu, Nayantara and Parthiban and call it Bullet Bhoopathi?
There are two reasons for this. First, the movie isn’t conducive to thoughts of a coherent nature. Second, the hero gets beaten up so often in the first half that it really does make me think of the man who has made a career out of getting beaten up.
Wanted tells the story of a milquetoast named Wesley Gibson (James McAvoy) who finds out that he is destined to be a super-assassin like his father (whom he never knew and is now dead). That this revelation comes first from Angelina Jolie (who oozes sexiness) and then from Morgan Freeman (who oozes credibility, even in a movie like this) might have a lot to do with why he accepts what they say at face value. Which turns out to be mistake in some ways.
On the action front, I don’t have too many complaints. The movie starts off with one of the most interestingly filmed action sequences in recent memory. It starts with a Matrix-esque disregard for the laws of physics, but then adds its own flavour in the form of a bullet that seems to bend around an obstacle. When we first see it, we think that maybe it’s just an optical illusion. Then it turns out that some characters in this movie can indeed do the Beckham thing with a gun. And that, my friends, is one of the movie’s many attractions on the action front. Bullets collide in mid-air, cars get around their passengers rather than waiting for the passengers to get into them, people shoot the wings off a fly…
Now, this sort of thing doesn’t really faze me. For one thing, if it’s well done, I’ll willingly suspend disbelief and enjoy the ride. For another, I grew up on a diet of masala movies where a hero would hold a knife’s edge to a gun barrel so as to split the bullet and shoot two bad guys at once. So, if anything, I was gratified to see that the movie ripped off some action sequences from Indian cinema. (To be honest, it was my wife who spotted many of them and told me, which makes me wonder if I am a bad influence on her.) The only thing Wanted can claim to its credit is that its special effects are more slick.
So, like I said, the action is fine, fine, fine. It is the other stuff that doesn’t work. Like I said, the plot really doesn’t matter much. But when the characters start talking about the loom of fate which divulges the names of the targets through errors in the weave (and I mean literally — there’s an actual loom and actual fabric involved)… that’s when it all goes wahoonie-shaped for me.
Listen, you wanna blow people up, go ahead. You wanna break the laws of physics, be my guest. Just don’t add quasi-philosophical bullshit unless you have the nous to at least do it a modicum of justice. The first Matrix movie wouldn’t necessarily have made Nietzsche drool, but at least it seemed to hold its own. (Then of course they made two more movies and it all went to hell in a handbasket.) This one seems to be loaded with so much preposterousness that bullets have to bend if they need to escape the bullshit and hit something. Frankly, once the thrill of watching the innovative action sequences subsided, I found the movieto be quite tedious despite its short running time.
Now, if you wanna make something like this work from start to finish, you need something extraordinary to keep people’s attention off all the shit you’re shoveling. Action and Angelina seem to do that job up to a point. But when even they fall short, you realize that the movie needs more than just a sexy babe and things going bang.
It needs Vadivelu.
ps: The term Bullet Bhoopathi is a relic from my college days. I can’t remember who came up with it back then, so if any of my classmates from BITS is reading this and can remember, please drop me a line and let me know.