By James Rocchi,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Explosive action film is extremely violent.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The film revolves around a secret society of assassins who kill on the orders of a mystical "Loom of Fate" the group's ideology is based on the idea of "Kill one, save a thousand" -- i.e. eliminating people based on the hypothetical ramifications of their unknown future acts. Lead character Wesley vents many of the frustrations of the modern cubicle-dwelling office laborer, questioning the choice between tedious, anonymous conformity or exciting, violent transgression. The fact that he ends up going with the latter is presented as a positive choice.
Violence & Scariness
Extensive, graphic, and bloody violence, including (but not limited to) lots of shootings (shown in great detail, with blood splatter and visible brain matter, and often reversed on screen and shown again for cinematic effect), stabbings, slashings (including blood and extensive tissue damage), beatings (including broken bones, shattered flesh and extensive blood), people being burned alive, dead bodies used for target practice, a shooting victim used as a human shield (with a firearm poked through what's left of the head), assassinations, rats used as delivery platforms for plastic explosives, a violent train wreck, car crashes, and a graphic murder/suicide.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Intense semi-clothed sexual activity; male and female rear nudity; discussions of condoms and "the morning-after pill." Crude discussions of sex. Characters have an affair.
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Language includes very frequent uses of "f--k," "f--king," "motherf---er," "a--hole," "s--t," "p---y," "horses--t," "whore," and more.
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Products & Purchases
Brands seen on screen include Captain Crunch, Cheerios, Snickers, Power Horse Energy Drink, Capital One, Google, and more.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Some cigar smoking; a character has a prescription for anti-anxiety drugs; some discussion of the "morning-after pill."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this over-the-top action film -- which stars Angelina Jolie and is based on a series of comic books, both of which will up its appeal with teens -- is loaded with extraordinarily explicit, extensive, stylized violence, including lots of bloody shootings, beatings, and more (blood and brain matter splatter are shown). The movie's style owes a debt to The Matrix, but it's much more graphic than that sci-fi epic. The film also suggests that the central character's transformation from corporate cog to killing machine is a positive thing to be admired. Also expect lots of swearing, some cigar smoking, and some pretty passionate scenes (including male and female rear nudity).
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Based on 15 parent reviews
No redeeming value
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What's the Story?
WANTED, loosely based on a comic book series by Mark Millar, begins as the tedious, troubled life of white-collar wage-slave Wesley Gibbon (James McAvoy) is invaded by a stylish, sexy criminal named Fox (Angelina Jolie). She tells Wesley that his father -- long thought dead -- was not only killed yesterday, but was one of the world's greatest assassins. Fox wants Wesley to join her group, The Fraternity, so that he can avenge his father, save his own life from his father's killer, and join The Fraternity's secret mission of "maintaining the balance" of the world by eliminating presumably deserving targets named by a mystical device called "The Loom of Fate." But as Wesley embraces his new life and confidence, he learns that his newfound work has consequences, and his new mentors and peers have secrets.
Is It Any Good?
Wanted is a bold, burly knockout action film that's immensely stylish and superbly shot, but it's also astonishingly violent and graphic. The English-language, big-studio debut of Russia-based director Timur Bekmambetov (best known in America for his Night Watch and Day Watch epic fantasies), Wanted is full of inventive special effects, edge-of-your-seat stunts, and hairpin twists and turns. Wesley, an unhappy office drone, becomes part of a criminal conspiracy that empowers and excites him; the fact that he and Fox kill people named by coded messages from "The Loom of Fate" is a mystical plot device that lends a thin layer of mystical philosophical rationalization to their violent deeds. And McAvoy, Jolie, and Morgan Freeman (as Fraternity leader Sloan) commit to their thin roles completely, and the film has several touches of gallows humor and bizarre bravado.
But when Wesley finds out that all is not as it seems, his newfound life turns poisonous and even more dangerous. The plot's changes and conspiracies are mostly an excuse for hyper-stylized on-screen violence with slow-motion fights and car stunts, curving bullets and beautifully shot bloodshed as Wesley fights to survive. Wanted offers nothing new -- it's clearly aping both The Matrix and Fight Club in its cinematography and sensibility -- but it's so enthusiastically well-made that it's a nearly perfect example of the modern action film. Wanted isn't high art, but it's superbly made trash, and the rare big-money action film that's as entertaining as it is excessive.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the appeal of action films. Why does violent entertainment have such a grip on the public imagination? Talk with your kids about the difference between real life and fantasy -- even teens. Point out that consequences exist -- even if it makes you feel humorless. The fact that violent movies stimulate parts of the brain bears some commentary from the parental units. Families can also contrast Jolie's positive public work as a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations with her professional work in violent action films. Do the two roles fight against each other, or are they simply different aspects of the same person? Which do you think is the "real" her?
- In theaters: June 26, 2008
- On DVD or streaming: December 1, 2008
- Cast: Angelina Jolie, James McAvoy, Morgan Freeman
- Director: Timur Bekmambetov
- Inclusion Information: Black actors
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Run time: 110 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong bloody violence throughout, pervasive language and some sexuality.
- Last updated: April 25, 2023
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