By Eric Kohn | Eric Kohn June 29, 2008 at 3:09AM
Timur Bekmambetov's inaugural English language movie Wanted doesn't hold up for several reasons. Much as I would like to welcome the Russian filmmaker's first assaultive entry in the canon of modern Hollywood spectacles with a cheerful nod to the gloriously anarchistic fantasies that preceded it, I've got major reservations about the mangled thematic implications of a hero empowered by the ability to kill. It works against the suspension of belief that should make this sort of maniacal shoot-em-up such mindless fun. There's no way around contemplating the fucked up morality of a guy whose release from his shitty 9-to-5 arrives with a license to kill and a smooch from Angelina Jolie. The killing, by the way, has a seriously twisted purpose. He's not your parents' 007, that's for sure.
Bekmambetov's Nightwatch and Daywatch films are nonlinear, messily arranged and sometimes downright incoherent, but man, together they constitute one helluva orgiastic blast. In the context of an American action movie, however, the Bekmambetov seems oddly subdued, like somebody told him to cool it with the idiosyncrasies and just cut-and-paste the slo-mo bullet effect ad infinitum. Still, the guy has a sense of humor about his absurd narrative, which will hopefully serve him well in future productions. The problem with self-satisfied drek like Die Hard 4 is that the stupidity of it all has a sincerity to it. There's something innately gross about that.
A friend joining me at today's Union Square screening of Wanted said he would have rather checked out Wall-E. Interestingly enough, the two movies provide a very precise contrast of visual strategies, where dialogue becomes relegated to nothing more than filler. Guess which one does it better? But more on that in a bit.
In the meantime, here's my Wall-E review, and some thoughts about its sly reference to modern day Bush rhetoric.