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25-year-old Wes was the most disaffected, cube-dwelling drone the planet had ever known. His boss chewed him out hourly, his girlfriend ignored him routinely and his life plodded on interminably. Everyone was certain this disengaged slacker would amount to nothing. There was little else for Wes to do but wile away the days and die in his slow, clock-punching rut. Until he met a woman named Fox. After his estranged father is murdered, the deadly sexy Fox recruits Wes into the Fraternity, a secret society that trains Wes to avenge his dad's death by unlocking his dormant powers. As she teaches him how to develop lightning-quick reflexes and phenomenal agility, Wes discovers this team lives by an ancient, unbreakable code: carry out the death orders given by fate itself. With wickedly brilliant tutors -- including the Fraternity's enigmatic leader, Sloan -- Wes grows to enjoy all the strength he ever wanted. But, slowly, he begins to realize there is more to his dangerous associates than meets the eye. And as he wavers between newfound heroism and vengeance, Wes will come to learn what no one could ever teach him: he alone controls his destiny.
For more about Wanted and the Wanted Blu-ray release, see Wanted Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on November 24, 2008 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Director: Timur Bekmambetov
Writers: Michael Brandt, Derek Haas, Chris Morgan
Starring: James McAvoy, Morgan Freeman, Angelina Jolie, Terence Stamp, Thomas Kretschmann, Common
» See full cast & crew
Wanted Blu-ray Review
'Wanted' shoots around, and through, the competition on Blu-ray.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, November 24, 2008
Do you make sweaters or do you kill people?
Audiences wanting to break out of the action movie doldrums and discover a fresh take on the genre need look no further than Wanted, a sleeper hit of the 2008 summer movie marathon. Utilizing the slow-motion, bullet tracking excitement of The Matrix, car chases that are faster and more furious than most, and featuring a plot twist that would make M. Night Shyamalan proud, Wanted packs quite the punch, and features a unique visual style that sets its apart from more standard-fare run-and-gun Action flicks. While Wanted doesn't feature a lead character that seems destined to burgeon into an icon of the genre, like a John McClane, the rough, gritty edge of a movie like Man on Fire, or the grace and refinement of the ballet of action as seen in something like Face/Off, Wanted nevertheless incorporates much of what made each of these, and other respected action pictures, work. The film blends the new with the old, creating for itself a unique style that pushes boundaries and leaves action-hungry audiences craving more.
Wesley Gibson (James McAvoy, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe) is a slave to the doldrums of life, wondering if he is the most insignificant human being to ever live. Stuck in a job he hates, surrounded by a boss and co-workers who drive him mad, living paycheck to paycheck, and participating in an unfulfilling relationship, Gibson's only solace comes in the form of anxiety pills that he keeps stashed in his drawer. His life changes forever when a mysterious woman named Fox (Angelina Joile, Mr. & Mrs. Smith) appears at the pharmacy counter as he yet again refills his prescription pills. Gibson soon finds himself in the middle of an intense shot-out in the store that spills over into the city streets as a fast-paced, death-defying car chase. Barely escaping with their lives, Gibson learns that Fox and others like her are part of an ages-old fraternity of assassins known as, well, The Fraternity. Led by the mysterious Sloan (Morgan Freeman, The Dark Knight), Gibson learns of his true identity, the son of a recently-deceased super assassin, himself capable of extraordinary abilities that make him the perfect killing machine. Agreeing to undergo intense training, Gibson endures various forms of physical punishment as he prepares to hunt down the first-rate assassin who killed his father, Cross (Thomas Kretschmann, Transsiberian).
If nothing else, Wanted is an extraordinarily fun Action movie that never, ever features a dull moment. Even in scenes not awash in blood, bullets, and general mayhem, the quirkiness of the characters and the stylized approach make the movie more than palatable during the rare moments of downtime. Wanted is perhaps one of the more superfluous movies ever made, but that doesn't make it a wasted outing. Rather than try and hammer home some kind of moral, social, or political statement, Wanted never disguises the fact that it is nothing more, and intends to be nothing more, than a straight, high-octane action extravaganza. Part serious, part comical, part drama, the movie feels like an amalgamation of The Matrix, Shoot 'Em Up, and Office Space, a combination that, if done right, practically guarantees at least a moderate level of success. Wanted is just what one might expect of a film borrowing elements from these three pictures, a wild, crazy, loud, bold, funny, and violent picture that plays out almost more as an action movie lover's favorite dream than anything else. As pure escapist entertainment, they don't come much better than Wanted.
If Wanted does feature one underlying theme amongst the stunts, special effects, bullets, and mayhem, it is that of self-discovery and trust. Gibson routinely, it seems, looks for his place in the world, at first searching in all the wrong places. To him, seeing his name appear as a hit on a Google search or the amount of cash in his bank account are the things he turns to for self-gratification and worth. As neither are ever what he wants them to be, he lives an unfulfilling life that does nothing but lead him to swallow more pills. It is finally the sense of purpose and acceptance that breaks him out of his shell to become the man destiny intended. Even if his gift is something supernatural, the determination Gibson eventually shows to honing his skills is impressive, and the old mantra of "no pain, no gain" certainly applies to his training regimen. Still, there is no doubt that Wanted is first and foremost an adrenaline-charged action extravaganza, covered in blood, riddled with bullets, and anything but routine.
Wanted Blu-ray, Video Quality
Wanted shoots onto Blu-ray with a high quality 1080p, 2.35:1-framed transfer. The image is another stunner from Universal, perhaps not quite reaching the top of the mountain in terms of picture quality, failing to surpass the likes of Baraka and The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, but coming close. The transfer features a warm color palette; flesh tones take on a rosy tint much of the time, but colors in general are not so over-saturated so as to appear abnormal. A layer of film grain is retained over the image, and the disc sports an excellent cinematic look and feel throughout. Detail is noticeably strong throughout the entirety of the film. The various urban environments seen throughout the film particularly shine; the exterior of Gibson's apartment looks gorgeous, with wonderful texture featured on the bricks making up the building's fašade, and the street pavement make the image look practically three dimensional and could seemingly only look more real in person. Detail in clothing reveals every stitch in close-up shots, and zoomed-in shots of faces offer viewers the finest of nuances. Perhaps the only real fault here is that several shots appear a bit hazy and undefined, particularly near the end of the film, but for the most part, Wanted offers viewers yet another near reference-quality transfer from Universal.
Wanted Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Wanted definitely excels in the audio department, providing fans with a ridiculously loud, active, and entertaining DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack. Not only is the track powerful, but it is refined and finely-tuned, featuring fine fidelity and sound placement that creates a seamless environment, a sonic work of art that excels at bringing the movie's action to vivid life. Sound screams from every corner, be it gunfire or the film's score and popular music that blast away throughout the movie. The film's first shootout in the pharmacy as heard in chapter three features an explosion of sound; it is loud, exciting, and a fantastic reason to own a home theater. In a subsequent car chase scene, listeners can literally feel the throttle and acceleration, the twisted metal, and the shattered glass, all of it flowing into the room with absolutely no problem. This soundtrack features an almost unparalleled level of bass as the LFE channel works triple time to ensure listeners hear -- and feel -- the movie. The train fight sequence, and its aftermath has heard in chapter 15, is perhaps the ultimate workout for any sound system. Play this sequence several times, slather it in oil, and it will be ready to compete for the title of Mr. Universe. Throughout the entirety of the movie, the sound comes alive and bursts forth from the speakers like few, if any, before it. This is definitely one of the very best soundtracks yet, with a clarity and definition that trounces most movie theater experiences.
Wanted Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Wanted comes to Blu-ray as an explosive, jam-packed special edition. Wanted is, of course, equipped with Universal's U-Control picture-in-picture functionality, this time with four separate tracks. Motion Comics features a narrated version of the Top Cow graphic novel. Scene Explorer allows viewers to see the film in several early forms, including hand-drawn storyboards, a computerized previsualization sequence, and behind-the-scenes footage. Users may view any of the options full-screen. Assassin Profiles allows viewers to access text- and graphics-based information on the weapons utilized in the film, dossiers of various assassins seen throughout the film, and a Global GPS Locator. Picture in Picture is a basic feature that showcases interviews with cast and crew, behind-the-scenes examinations of the making of the film's special effects, the creation of the film's props, and more. This disc is also equipped with My Scenes technology, allowing users to bookmark scenes and create custom clips.
An alternate opening to the film (1080p, 2:38), and an extended scene (480p, 1:58) are next. Cast and Characters (1080p, 19:59) features behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with the cast and crew that go deeper into the casting, the making of the film's visual stunts and special effects, and more. Stunts on the L Train (1080p, 2:30) takes a brief and specific look at the making of one of the film's dramatic speeding train sequences. Special Effects: The Art of the Impossible (1080p, 8:27) features Special Effects Supervisor Dominic Tuohy, producer Marc Platt, director Timur Bekmambetov, actor James McAvoy, and others further describing the making of the film's special effects. Groundbreaking Visual Effects: From Imagination to Execution (1080p, 8:06) features a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film's Russian-made special effects, the use of previsualization to assist the special effects artists, and more.
The Origins of 'Wanted': Bringing the Graphic Novel to Life (1080p, 8:05) features an extended discussion with graphic novel author Mark Millar discussing his inspirations, the European angle of the story, the novel's unique visuals, and more. Through the Eyes of Visionary Director Timur Bekmambetov (1080p, 9:05) features the cast and crew discussing the director's professionalism and unique approach to filmmaking. 'Wanted': Motion Comics (1080p, 13:55) is a series of narrated images from the graphic novel, the same series found in the Motion Comics section of the U-Control feature. The Making of 'Wanted: The Game' (1080p, 10:01) takes viewers inside the production of the film's video game-based sequel. Throughout the bonus features, users will discover secret codes that may be used to unlock portions of the video game. This disc also features BD-Live (Blu-ray profile 2.0) connectivity, though the feature was not available at time of writing. Disc two of this set contains a digital copy of the film. Played back on a second generation iPod Touch, Wanted looks surprisingly bland compared to other digital copies, featuring the heaviest blocking seen yet on a reviewed digital copy. The sound is equally uninspired, though it does feature a few nice left to right and right to left directional effects.
Wanted Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Wanted offers action viewers something new, something bold, something more thrilling and engaging than the dime-a-dozen action flicks that tend to bore audiences with repetitive action sequences and "been there, done that" special effects. The film never tries to tackle social, moral, or political issues underneath its surface. For the most part, it is what it is, and that is one of the reasons why the film works rather well. Perhaps not destined to be classic, Wanted nevertheless delivers a solid story with a nice twist, first-rate action, groundbreaking stunts and effects, and generally good performances both in front of and behind the camera. Universal's Blu-ray release of this summer blockbuster is another fine effort from the studio. Featuring great picture quality, a deafening reference soundtrack, and a nice assortment of bonus materials, the disc is a must-own for fans. Wanted receives a solid recommendation.
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Wanted Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Today on Blu-ray - December 2nd - December 2, 2008
Author Stephen King is generally known as the king of horror, and many of his novels have gone on to become very successful horror films. And it is that generalization that catches most people off-guard when they find out that one his short stories was the inspiration ...
• Universal Studios Announces Wanted for Blu-ray - October 3, 2008
Universal Studios Home Entertainment has announced that they will bring the Timur Bekmambetov thriller 'Wanted' to Blu-ray on December 2nd, day-and-date with the DVD release. This two-disc set (the second disc is a digital copy of the film) will feature 2.35:1 ...
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