Bringing Mike Millar’s high concept comic book to the big screen was always going to take a certain type of director. Although the source material has undergone a couple of changes in the transition from page to screen – most notably the covert league of super-villains from the original becomes a highly evolved group of assassins – the script still calls for a huge amount of over the top, comic-book style action. Step up Kazakh director Timur Bekmambetov, who showed enough promise with Russian hit Night Watch and its sequel Day Watch, to earn a chance to helm a Hollywood blockbuster. The film follows the rise of Wesley Gibson (an excellent McAvoy) from put-upon office drone to super-powered killer; throw in a sexy mentor in the form of Angelina Jolie’s assassin veteran Fox, and shadowy leader Sloan (Freeman), and you have a script that has inevitably be compared with the Matrix trilogy. The nihilistic tone won’t be for everybody though, and if anything, it’s the action in Wanted that takes its cues from the Wachowski’s work. Bekmambetov effectively choreographs some outrageous set pieces here, and while bullet-time effects do feature, it’s the director’s inventive gunplay that demands attention. Earlier this year a Universal exec claimed that Wanted could do for Blu-ray what the Matrix did for DVD, and in purely visual terms, the claim isn’t far off – cars use each other as ramps for breathtaking jumps, guns come mounted with cameras for seeing around corners, and fired bullets can bend or cancel each other out in mid-air. On Blu-ray this kinetic tour-de-force is represented with an accurate AVC-encoded transfer, conveying the grittiness of some scenes (the movie was shot on film), while coping with the constant motion of the quick-cutting camera. The film relies more on green screen techniques than CGI, and there’s a tangibility to the stunts that’s lacking in, say, the Matrix sequels. The film’s dynamic audio also adds extra depth to an already visceral experience, but like contemporaries Woo and Bay, Bekmambetov seems more concerned with cool action than solid plotting. Extras include the now standard comic-to-film exploration as well as the not-so-standard motion comic versions of Millar’s original mini-series, but it’s the docs that explore the special-effects techniques and Bekmambetov’s approach to film-making, such as the ‘Through the Eyes’ clip, that provide the most insight into the inner thoughts of an action visionary, making the Blu-ray package well worth a look.
Feature: Extras: Picture: Audio:
Director: Timur Bekmambetov
Starring: James McAvoy, Angelina Jolie, Morgan Freeman
Released: Out Now