Angie, buff & inked
James McAvoy’s the star of Wanted (2008), new on DVD and Blu-ray (yours truly has finally gone HD), and he’s not bad at action and comedy with his Russell Crowe good looks and adept timing. Plus, the film’s loaded with enough giddy cheap thrills and comic book plot twists to keep boredom away. But the main attraction is co-star Angelina Jolie, her lean and brazen aura making everything seem far more significant than it truly is. The unexpected kiss they share sets the stage for a human back story that sadly never occurs. Director Timur Bekmambetov, making his English-language debut after a career in his native Russia, is preoccupied with slam-bang gunfights laced with tension. As we’ve seen too many times before, those aren’t easy elements to balance, but he makes it work — almost to the end. (Order from Amazon.)
A lot of people have their panties in a knot over the new James Bond movie, whining that the violence, chaotic editing and overall lack of coherence and élan have corrupted 007 beyond recognition. Quantum of Solace (2008) — that title took balls — isn’t the best in the series, but its alleged felonies aren’t nearly as heinous as Roger Moore burlesquing Bond into witless buffoonery. Had the Moore films’ suspect ‘comedy relief’ — redneck Sheriff J.W. Pepper (Live and Let Die and The Man With the Golden Gun) or steel-toothed Jaws (The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker) — been introduced all the way back in Dr. No, the series might’ve died at the starting gate.
Continuing where the earlier Casino Royale left off, Bond is tossed into a deafening barrage of situations — and if you can follow it without Cliffs Notes, you must be in Mensa. There isn’t more I can add, as Quantum fades from the memory as rapidly as one of its chases. It feels like a bridge connecting Casino Royale to some grander chapter ahead.
Labels: Angelina Jolie, Capsule reviews, James Bond