It’s been a slow few weeks in terms of new movies on Netflix, but the dearth of noteworthy originals is giving some of the older flicks in the streamer’s vast content library the chance to shine.
Cast in point, the 2008 action thriller Wanted has just climbed its way into the Netflix top 10 this week. Its resurgence in popularity courtesy of the streaming service is a solid reminder of how over-the-top ridiculous, but also relentlessly enjoyable, the movie is. And, even better, it holds up pretty darn well.
Wanted is currently ranking at number nine, just ahead of The Dark Knight Rises, and now could be the perfect time for a rewatch or a first viewing.
What is Wanted about?
Wanted is basically power fantasy. It stars James McAvoy as Wesley Gibson, a run-of-the-mill accountant frustrated with his unremarkable life who discovers he’s actually the son of a deadly assassin who worked for an elusive organization known as the Fraternity until his death.
After learning from a member of this secret society, Fox (Angelina Jolie), that his father’s killer is still out there, Wesley abandons his ordinary life to become a member of the Fraternity and seek revenge. Not a bad pitch for an action movie!
Alongside McAvoy and Jolie, the film also stars Morgan Freeman as the leader of the Fraternity. Plus, there’s a small supporting role for a young Chris Pratt as Wesley’s co-worker and best friend.
Oh, and in Wanted, the Fraternity’s skilled assassins can fire bullets with a curved arc in order to hit targets from around corners or who are hiding behind cover. This completely disregards the laws of physics, but it’s pretty cool all the same.
What do critics say about Wanted?
Historically over-the-top action movies don’t tend to fare well with critics — just look at the Transformers franchises as proof — and yet Wanted received a surprisingly strong 71% score on Rotten Tomatoes (opens in new tab) back in 2008. Even viewers weren’t as generous awarding it a 69% audience score.
Legendary film critic Roger Ebert declared “Wanted slams the pedal to the metal and never slows down. Here’s an action picture that’s exhausting in its relentless violence and its ingenuity in inventing new ways to attack, defend, ambush and annihilate.”
Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly (opens in new tab) shared a similar sentiment to several other critics calling the film “kind of unintelligible and idiotic. Also kind of nasty and brutish. And also undeniably kind of fun…” Schwarzbaum also praised the performance of Angelina Jolie in particular.
Sonny Bunch of The Washington Times (opens in new tab) made a not-unflattering comparison to an influential 90s science-fiction flick: “Few films have accepted the role of Matrix knockoff with such gusto as Wanted; indeed, at times it’s almost impossible to distinguish the two.”
Should you stream Wanted on Netflix?
If you want a mindless action movie that is extremely ridiculous pretty much from the start, then you could do a lot worse than Wanted. McAvoy, Jolie and co have a blast with the pulpy material, and there are several action sequences that will really get your blood pumping. It’s undeniably shlocky, but still highly watchable.
If you’re after something with some substance, then this may be one to avoid. Wanted is the cinematic equivalent of fast food, but in its defense, it’s well aware of that fact. Based on an equally brash graphic novel series, Wanted knows its throwaway fun and doesn’t try to pitch itself as anything beyond that.
Netflix is preparing to release its own over-the-top action movie in the form of The Gray Man later this month, so Wanted could make a nice watch in preparation. Although, based on the early reviews for The Gray Man, it would appear that the Netflix original flick, which stars Chris Evan and Ryan Gosling, might not measure up.