It’s been a few weeks in terms of new movies on Netflix, but the lack of notable originals gives some of the older movies in the streamer’s massive content library a chance to shine.
2008’s action thriller Wanted just made Netflix’s top 10 this week. Its resurgence in popularity thanks to the streaming service is a solid reminder of how over-the-top ridiculous but also unrelentingly entertaining the film is. And what’s even better, it holds up damn well.
Wanted is currently ranked ninth, just ahead of The Dark Knight Rises, and now could be the perfect time for a rerun or a first look.
What is “Wanted” about?
Wanted is basically power fantasy. It stars James McAvoy as Wesley Gibson, an ordinary accountant who becomes frustrated with his low-key life and discovers that he is actually the son of a deadly assassin who worked for an elusive organization called 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 gives up his ordinary life to join the Brotherhood and seek revenge. Not a bad pitch for an action movie!
In addition to McAvoy and Jolie, the film also stars Morgan Freeman as the leader of the Brotherhood. There’s also a supporting role for a young Chris Pratt as Wesley’s co-worker and best friend.
Oh, and in Wanted, the Brotherhood’s skilled assassins can fire bullets with a curved bow to hit targets from corners or behind cover. This totally defies the laws of physics, but it’s still pretty cool.
What do critics say about Wanted?
Historically exaggerated action films don’t fare well with critics – just look at the Transformers franchises for proof – and yet Wanted received a surprisingly strong score of 71% Rotten tomatoes (opens in new tab) back in 2008. Even the viewers weren’t so generous, giving it a viewership rating of 69%.
Legendary film critic Roger Ebert stated, “Wanted hits the gas pedal and never slows down. Here is an action film that is grueling in its unrelenting violence and ingenuity in inventing new ways to attack, defend, ambush and destroy.”
Lisa Schwarzbaum from Weekly entertainment (opens in new tab) shared a similar sentiment to several other critics, who called the film “kind of incomprehensible and idiotic”. Also kind of evil and brutal. And definitely a bit of fun too…” Schwarzbaum also particularly praised Angelina Jolie’s performance.
Sonny Bunch of The Washington Times (opens in new tab) made a not unflattering comparison to an influential ’90s sci-fi flick: “Few films have embraced the role of Matrix impersonator with such enthusiasm as Wanted; In fact, sometimes it’s almost impossible to tell the two apart.”
Should You Stream Wanted on Netflix?
If you want a mindless action movie that’s extremely ridiculous from the start, then you could do a lot worse than Wanted. McAvoy, Jolie and company have a blast with the muddy material, and there are several action sequences that will get your blood pumping. It’s undeniably fluffy, but still well worth watching.
If you’re looking for something with substance, you might want to avoid this. Wanted is the cinematic equivalent of fast food, but in its defense, it’s aware of that fact. Based on an equally bold graphic novel series, Wanted knows its throwaway fun and doesn’t try to portray itself as anything else.
Netflix is gearing up to release its own over-the-top action film in the form of The Gray Man later this month, so Wanted could be making a nice watch in the pipeline. However, based on the early reviews for The Gray Man, it seems that the Netflix original film may not be able to compete with Chris Evan and Ryan Gosling.