Movies From the Black Lagoon: Wanted

Movies From the Black Lagoon
Wanted - 2008, Rated R

A nerdy cubicle slave trades his pocket protector for automatic weapons as the world's top assassin in this action yarn that offers plenty of well staged sequences that should distract you from the gaping plot holes that spring up in this flashy adaptation of a graphic novel, by Mark Millar.
The film opens with an excellent sequence that follows Mr. X as he enters a corporate office and demands help in identifying a bullet from a cowering executive. His contact wants to help him but finds it's impossible to concentrate when a sniper plants one in your brainpan. Mr. X leaps into action, literally, by crashing through a window into the building across the street where he quickly caps a quartet of killer disguised as construction workers. Unfortunately that's what the sniper wanted him to do and he's soon face down amongst the killers who were only hired to draw him outside.
The film does a 180 here and drops in on the sad life of Wesley Gibson. He's a henpecked office drone who cowers before his supervisor, suffers from panic attacks, and is well aware that his fellow office mate is faking dental problems to free up time to have afternoon trysts with Wesley's girl friend. A routine trip to the pharmacy, for more panic attack meds, plunges him right into the thick of things when a gorgeous brunette (who introduces herself as Fox) sidles up to him and warns him he is in danger. She couldn't be more right as a gunman begins firing at them, whom and you'll recognize as the same cat who killed Mr. X. Pretty soon they're dodging bullets and engaged in a high speed car chase during which Fox gets all of the exposition out of the way by explaining that Wesley's dad was an assassin and that the guy shooting at them has made Wesley an orphan.
Fox spirits Wesley back to a linen factory where her team of killers is headquartered. There, Wesley meets the group's leader, Sloan, and he finds out that his father was their best killer. He also learns that he has inherited his father's ability to produce enough adrenaline to kill a donkey, which comes in handy when you're a hired killer. Sloan also reveals that their group has been around forever and they only kill targets that fate orders them to by communicating with them via messages implanted in their fabrics. He buys it all eventually and then must engage in some dubious training before being allowed to kill the mysterious man who keeps shooting at him whenever he leaves the factory. Said training includes being tied up and punched in the face alongside firearms classes and a little knife fighting.
This all leads to a showdown with the guy who killed his dad in the opening and it's worth the wait. Their epic battle is a corker of a sequence that climaxes with them shooting at each other while inside of a speeding train that has just plunged off of a cliff. Great stuff but the real payoff involves a lot of information that was left out his tarring and a stunning revelation about the true identity of the guy he's been sent to kill. Suffice to say there are plenty of last minute surprises here that they save for the finale, which pits Wesley against the real enemy armed only with two guns and an army of time bombs attached to a hoard of rodents.
This one works more often than it doesn't but fans of the graphic novel will be disappointed in how much they have scaled down the story (which originally dealt with meta-humans). That said this one provides a ton of great action scenes and a satisfying conclusion thanks to some expert staging by director Timor Bekmambetou (Night Watch and Day Watch). The cast is up to the game as well with good turns by James Macavoy, as Wesley, and Morgan Freeman, as Sloan. Lorna Scott all but steals this as Wesley's supervisor from his office job and she's even scarier than the gun toting bad guys here.
Best Line: "Oh my God. Hey, we can't shoot a dead woman. She might be somebody's mom."

Tom Doty occasionally emerges from the Lagoon to check his e-mail. If you'd like to get a message to him, write to: dotyfox@pennswoods.net.