By Clint Morris
They say absence makes the heart grow fonder â€“ and in the case of bullet-time, wire-work, and slow-mo Kung Fu sequences, itâ€™d be true.
Itâ€™s been a decade since The Wachowski, er, brothers (is that even the case, now that one of them is, well, not as â€˜manlyâ€™ as he used to be?) blew our mind with their visual effectsy-groundbreaker â€œThe Matrixâ€ – and near just as long as weâ€™ve seen one of the many copycat films (â€œCharlieâ€™s Angelsâ€ and so on) that followed it. And thank friggin god â€“ most of us had seen enough slowed-up action sequences to last a century.
There was enough bullet-time in the Keanu Reeves starrer to keep a dozen gun clubs open indefinitely, and enough wire work to put a circus performer out of business. The last thing you wanted to see in the early noughties was yet another actioner featuring slow-mo fight scenes or shooting bullets leisurely heading towards the screen.
The trick had been revealed, the magic had all but gone, and the excitement of seeing something spectacular and new had turned into something stale and well, meh.
Funny then, that those same techniques seen in â€œThe Matrixâ€ films has again been put to use in â€œWantedâ€, a new actioner starring Angelina Jolie and Morgan Freeman, and they actually do impress. A lot. I donâ€™t know whether theyâ€™re better, or whether theyâ€™re even different effects than weâ€™ve previously seen, but one thingâ€™s for sure, they knock your socks off!
The break did us some good.
There are moments in â€œWantedâ€ that absolutely blow your mind â€“ see cars flip and spin as youâ€™ve never seen before, see men dive out of buildings and soar across rooftops like never before, and see slow-moving bullets soar towards headsâ€¦ and actually be impressed by such a sequence. Again.
The film, based on a series of graphic novels, tells of a weedy desk-jockey (James McAvoy) whose informed by a hot spy (Angelina Jolie) that his father, also a spy, has just been killed. The â€˜Fraternityâ€™, an ageny of assassins run by a sinister Morgan Freeman, train the boy to be a man so he can take down the rogue that killed one of their own. (Nothing is what it seems though â€“ Iâ€™ll just say that).
Thereâ€™s a plot here – - but truth to be told, the power of â€œWantedâ€ is in itâ€™s over-the-top and amazing effects. The performances, the storyline and the direction comes second.. even thirdâ€¦ to the computer-aided stunts.
As a film, â€œWantedâ€ is the fluff that hangs from the fluff thatâ€™s disattached itself from a larger ball of fluff â€“ no brainer is an understatement â€“ but as a demo for what can be accomplished on a top-of-the-range computer, itâ€™s a sensational sales tool.