Wanted vs V For Vendetta

V For Vendetta stillSo in a fit of mindless entertainment seeking I went to see Wanted. How poor, shallow and truly uninspiring it is. You know that things are bad in the cinema industry when ticket prices rival a small meal and can only be purchased at the ‘concession’ stand because they’ve laid off the staff who used to sell them.

Wanted is, quite frankly, garbage. All the portentious, pseudo cryptic shit the Wachowski brothers sensibly strained out when distilling The Matrix coupled with all the action stunts that got canned when they were making things like the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Add to this the most unexciting and useless train sequence since Mission Impossible 1 and you’ve got a picture with loser written all over it. I mean if you’re going to play the Dan Brown thousand year conspiracy thing, you’d really better at least watch a couple of episodes of Alias, if only to see how they make something like 16th Century Da Vinci wannabe Rambaldi into a compelling part of the plot.

As for Morgan Freeman, either he’s just got greedy in his old age or someone at Universal has something on him because this is without doubt his worst movie ever. You’ve got to hope he’s going to enjoy the money because no one is going to enjoy or remember his performance. It’s like Samuel L Jackson after Pulp Fiction when he was in that Shark/Whale film that no one can be bothered to remember and got bitten in two in a travesty of CGI – so bad people in the cinema started laughing. As for Wanted, it’s so bad no one was talking when they left the cinema.

So I get home and decide to continue the brain out by watching V For Vendetta. Bad move. This is everything that Wanted isn’t. It resonates. It forces you to think even as you’re watching Hugo Weaving do his kung fu leaping. It’s a real reflection on life today and the continuing pimping of fear. It makes you wonder how far would you go and what you’d be prepared to sacrifice even as you’re struggling to get over the often badly delivered Shakespearean doggrel.

However, it does share one thing with Wanted. Both were derived from comic books and both highlight the fact that no matter how sophisticated (or base) the comic, you can’t simply copy that into film. Film isn’t simply a succession of comic panels just as comics aren’t simply a selection of stills. Film is both infinitely more dense and compact than any comic book, while comics have a breadth and scope that film can’t even aspire to. Here are some comics that haven’t made it onto the screen well, Hulk, X-Men, Fantastic Four, Daredevil, Batmans 1 – 4 (Batman Begins is a film, not a comic book), Supermans 1 – 4, Elektra, Hulk (again), League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Akira (great animation, terrible, terrible ending) and Sin City. As proof, Watchmen is a fantastic comic but utterly unfilmable, while Batman Begins is a great film but would make a shit comic book. Of all the recent comic book adaptations, perhaps only Spiderman manages the crossover and that’s only in the first movie. By the time you get to Spidey 3, it’s all tedious action pieces and have a go happy endings. As far as V For Vendetta goes, the movie is more a take on the comic than any attempt to reproduce its full range, so at least it’s playing to the strengths of the film medium.

As for Wanted, the comic could be every bit as crap as the movie, but I wouldn’t know because I’m never going to pick it up.