Reflections on Wanted
by B.J. Delas Armas
on 6/29/2008 09:04:00 AM
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I know Angelina Jolie had a movie somewhere, I just didn't know it was Wanted, till the Airplano told me.
Before making our way to the strip mall city that is called Burbank, we were watching T2. I don't ever remember finishing the film, but the first hour to hour and half where that white cop is chasing Johnny, where the Terminator incites random violence on people, where Johnny's mom plots her escape are classic moments, is forever burnt in my memory, with new proteins synthesized in my brain specifically for those moments and everything.
So with my memory fully emblazoned with classic action film imagery and flow, I was initially really feeling this movie.
The cast of characters seemed to have a deeper story to tell. I thought Angelina would be like this T2-like protector of the overanxious protagonist. I thought Morgan Freeman would be some old wise guy with great stories and lessons to teach.
I thought there was going to be a revelation about how all these assassins came to be associated with each other, which spoke to the working classes or something. Assassins killed who they killed because it was "fate." Fate was a textile machine that determined who these assassings would target. They were assigned the kills and did them without any questioning. One interesting thing Angelina said in justification was "kill one, save one thousand." I definitely don't agree, but I kept thinking that they were going to have a better point that would explain that quote.
One theme I liked was considering their handling of the protagonist's "sickness." Here's an overanious guy in a cubicle who can't speak up at all and is prone to panic attacks. He absolutely needs his pills to stop what is defined in our society as a "panic attack." However, not so anymore, he absolutely needs these "panic attacks" to shoot the wings off a fly, curve a bullet, or grab a pendulum. The protagnoist's "sickness" was effectively harnessed into a "strength." From a blood-pumping bedwetter to an intensely focused, assassin.
The effects department of the movie did quite a job of bringing the viewer into the experience of an anxiety attack...the mounting and increasingly suffocating pressure, the lack of memory. The extra blood pressure ended up being the energy needed to refine his super-human abilities.
Aside from this theme, turns out there wasn't much of a story to tell.
The story broke down when it turns out that this assassin fraternity turns out to be a faux, or at least run by a superficial faux. Its as if we shouldn't have bothered following anything till the end of the film. I just don't like that it appears there's no nuance or any character development.
The culmination of the movie happens when this assassin fraternity ultimately kills itself because of fate. They seem to accept this 'fate' from Morgan Freeman's character with no questions asked. They do not think to question a guy who has been lying all along...and they end up killing themselves...in honor of the fraternity code.
The message this movie ultimately ended up saying is something I take issue with.
With a great cast of celebrities whom I consider somewhat respectable people, I thought there was going to be deeper themes than the ones of revenge and "taking control."
The big take-home message was about taking control of your life. However, the huge irony the size of the elephant in the back of the room, is that Morgan Freeman's character is similar to the protagonist's in that he too is tring to take control of his fate. The only difference is that he gets killed because he's defined as "bad", or "not the protagonist" a very slippery slope.
Seemed like the movie that the mid-20s, recent college grad, office cubicle bro-ski demographic would enjoy. Plenty of unwarranted violence with a hip Office-Dr. Phil/psuedo-scientologist type of fatalistic view on life. New clothes, same bullshit.
Labels: Movies, Psychological Anthropology, Public Discourse