there was NOT enough Angelina Jolie in this movie to make it worth my 9 dollars. :(

Wanted wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.

This isn’t saying much.

Basically, the premise is that our guy Wesley is a loser. He works in a cubicle, has anxiety attacks, knows he’s being cheated on, AND has to deal with the fat witch at the office acting like she’s the office manager or some stupid ish. Goodness only knows why she keeps asking him for that pesky budget. While Wesley’s in line at the pharmacy trying to get his anxiety meds refilled, he’s rescued by Fox, played by Angelina Jolie, who is an agent of the mysterious Fraternity his father. It turns out that someone wants him dead. In a tightly shot car chase, we get introduced to the mythos of the Fraternity, including their awesome abilities re: shooting around curves.

All of Wesley’s missed deadlines and deeply rooted anxieties go away when he realizes he’s actually the son of one of the most amazing gunsmen in the world. He embarks on a psychological journey to save the rec center! to recover his lost masculinity! to avenge his father when he learns the Fraternity’s secrets. Ultimately, he realizes that there’s more to being the truly bad-ass son of mystery man than threatening his ex-girlfriend flirting with Angelina Jolie. There’s honor and such, too.

Now, better writers than me have picked up on the problematic racial casting involved in selecting Angelina for the role of Fox. In Angie’s defense, I will point out that, y’know, it’s hard out there for thin white women looking to get cast in strong, awesome parts not reliant on their sexuality.* What troubled me more about the film is the way it defined being a man as a violently angry repudiation of any kind of weakness. Wesley’s goal is to stop being a pussy; this is accomplished through physical violence, murder, tons of fat jokes, and a studious rejection of anything reeking of the feminine, the peaceful, or the weak. In fact, one of the first people Wesley kills is the only member of the Fraternity to show anyone any sort of kindness. This made him weak, and this weakness made him a victim.

At least the special effects were awesome. The film was directed by Timur Bekmambetov, who worked on both Night Watch and Day Watch. The man is a visual genius, and I sort of wish I’d just re-watched those instead.

*I… can’t even tell if I’m being sarcastic here. There is a serious lack of good roles for women.

Comments

  1. SunlessNick says

    Now, better writers than me have picked up on the problematic racial casting involved in selecting Angelina for the role of Fox.

    I can’t see mention of this in the posts you linked to, but over at Heroine Content, Grace also mentions that the villains in the graphic novel were white – so not only do the change one of the story’s only good people from black to white, they also change the villainy (not precisely the same villain character apparently) from white to black.

    I can’t venture an opinion of the film as I’ve not seen it, a state of affairs that is likely to continue.

  2. says

    You’re welcome – I thought it was interesting that this was a male reviewer, but, well, you know those Old Europeans and their effeminate ways!

    It (and the book, from what I saw on the comics blogs) does sound to me like it was designed to appeal to the Whiny Brittle Blanched Male* who feels that Society Done Him Wrong but is not brave enough – mentally, that is, because realistically it takes a lot of mental courage before physical courage is likely to be required in this – to face the fact that it’s the older richer white men who have the whip hand of him, and have since the days when they shot and beat down his grand- or great-grandparents (men and women both) for striking, so instead like a dutiful little jackal (they hurl the little streets against the less, not the great) he only snaps and growls (but under his breath!) at those even lower down the social ladder than he, and pretends that they are the ones responsible for keeping him down. But if the world were as it should be, if he only had the chance, he’d show them all, he’d pay them back, he’d be the Hero he is in his own head, in his violent macho dreams…

    This describes, alas, most of my male relatives, to greater or lesser degree, for several generations running, as well as my college classmates, and my current weedy boss who is terrified of his wife (who makes more money than he now) and so jokes about having to beat her to all his male buddies, yuk yuk, just like my bitter old Boston-Irish-American Blue-Dog union-card paste-consistency high school teachers, just to name a few.


    *And the women who consider themselves Honorary Males, like Dr. Mary Grabar and the rest of the Clownhall stable of, erm, ‘pundits.’ [sic]

  3. Melpomene says

    ;) BEANTOWN PRIDE!

    One of the fascinating things is that Jolie was such an “exceptional female” — you know, one of those girls defined by being what all the other girls aren’t — but wasn’t the most memorable female char. She actually spoke less than she did in *Kung Fu Panda* and got less witty lines.

  4. says

    She actually spoke less than she did in *Kung Fu Panda* and got less witty lines.

    I am unfortunately several beers shy of my usual form now (how unfeminine of me, I know) so I can’t think if anyone has come up with a cogent and witty phrasing of this meme, but there seems to me upon reflection to be a kind of Action!Grrl Beatrice – the female chara who’s there to be a motivator for the Hero on his Journey (TM) but is a little more (depending on the movie) than just a cheerleader, an ornament, or a helpless screamer.

    Action!Grrl Beatrice gets to Enlighten the Hero, though the real mentoring will be done by an Older, Wiser Dude; Action!Grrl Beatrice gets to save the Hero’s butt, at least once, and she gets at least one sequence of saving herself/accomplishing a mission, before being captured/depowered so that the Hero has to rescue her. She is a Precious Object (god how do I hate Joseph Campbell, let me count the ways) but still she gets to be a little better than that (Trinity in the Matrix, Princess Leia before the Bikini), admittedly often being more of a Faux Action Girl (Marion in Raiders) and always having to be the Hero’s Motivator rather than Hero’s Mentor, or even the Hero herself. She will often end up being grossly depowered, by the end, because the authors don’t know what to do with her, and since Story must be all about TEH MENZ, she becomes a hindrance and a third wheel and must be moved to the side instead of allowed to develop and have her own arc (Lyra in Subtle Knife, Jean Grey, Storm, and Rogue in X3).

    I have this idea for an evil SG-1 AU, now…

  5. Melpomene says

    OMG YES! Let’s just call it ActionGrrrl!Beatrice, since that’s so perfect.

    Isn’t it weird that Tigress and Snake in Kung Fu Panda were more realized female characters and were in a CARTOON? They weren’t the point of the movie, but their separate plot (where they and their team save the village, and they and their team go to confront the big bad on their own) was pretty darn interesting in its own right. I didn’t get the sense that they were just foils for the hero’s development — they cared passionately about their mentor and the village, and wanted to help save the day.

  6. Patrick says

    I had no plans to see the movie, since I already detest Mark Millar’s comics in general, and everything I’ve heard about Wanted indicates that it’s even worse than the comic.

  7. says

    hm…now I’m having even *more* evil ideas of an Animatrix style remake of the DC, with Action!Grrl Beatrice taking Virgil’s place all the way along, fighting the centaurs and various demons to get The Chosen One to Heaven where he can Fulfill His Destiny as God’s Champion, the Rider on the White Horse, in the Apocalyptic finale – see, we can go one better than him being a Jesus Figure, our Dante character can turn out to be the Second Coming only not realizing it (there is old theological fandom debate about this btw) and there’s your Action Hero’s Journey story. It’ll be like a combination of Disney’s Hercules plus Oh My Goddess plus Spawn plus Hellboy – a fourway trainwreck, in other words.

    (Bad, *bad* P@L! No biscuit!)

    Hmmm, what would the Purgatory level look like? It won’t work as History Fanboy meets Famous Ambivalent People Who Redeemed Themselves In The Past; it won’t *really* work as Hero gradually attains self-knowledge and understanding, either, even tho’ that’s what it’s all *supposed* to be, b/c there are never enough explosions and karate kicks in that (which is why Yoda’s training in Empire gets cut off short!) so my thought is that it would have to be a level of mess-with-your-head – the higher up the mountain you go, the less you can tell what reality is, and the greater the temptations to stay and become a Lotus-Eater in your own reality, as you try to work through your issues needing redemption. (Maybe “Purgatory’ is breaking up/getting corrupted due to Lucifer’s increasing power, chainging it from its original purpose?)

    Anyway this gives us the opportunity to have that most important reversal of the Hero’s Journey with Action!Grrl Beatrice – the point at which she goes from being Kick-Ass to Helpless Weenie. Maybe he was a screaming weenie down on the levels with the lava and the burning sands and the centaur-archers and the farting demons with pitchforks, but *here* Dante gets to come into his own and instead of needing to be rescued, here’s where he rescues her and she finally reciprocates his affection, instead of treating him like the annoying kid brother…

    (Down, girl! Stop that!)

    Isn’t it weird that Tigress and Snake in Kung Fu Panda were more realized female characters and were in a CARTOON? They weren’t the point of the movie, but their separate plot (where they and their team save the village, and they and their team go to confront the big bad on their own) was pretty darn interesting in its own right. I didn’t get the sense that they were just foils for the hero’s development — they cared passionately about their mentor and the village, and wanted to help save the day.

    I’m not so surprised that it was in a cartoon, because I used to watch a lot of anime when I was in junior high, and even the butchered, bowdlerized versions that were all that was shown then were so far above most of the live-action adult US-made TV of the time for plot complexity and characterization, conflict and nuance (TJ Hooker frex vs anything by Leiji Matsumoto) but i AM surprised because it’s a kids’ movie which isn’t following the whole Hero’s Journey/Precious Object model exactly. Sounds like they got some YA writers to do the script, instead of the usual suspects! [/snark] [/snark] [/snark] – damn key’s still stuck–

    Speaking of which – Have you seen the buzz about this new Disney chihuaha-romance movie? Bleargh!!!

  8. Melpomene says

    The chihuahua movie looks ludicrous!

    I loved WallE BTW. I’m about to do a review of it now.

  9. Melpomene says

    Oh dear god. And that commentator doesn’t even start pulling out how the chihuahuas seem like they’re a caricature or metonym or whatever for Mexicans w. delusions of unconquered grandeur.

  10. says

    Oh dear god. And that commentator doesn’t even start pulling out how the chihuahuas seem like they’re a caricature or metonym or whatever for Mexicans w. delusions of unconquered grandeur.

    “I’ll take ‘Skeezy Race Issues’ for $500, Alex.”

    I can only imagine what the fandom commentary is going to look like when this actually comes out, or we get enough clips to validate our suspicions. (I admit, I am prejudiced against phony ‘viral marketing’ stuff, a check in the negative column to begin with.

    Wonder if the spoiled chihuahua gets rescued by and finds love with the Taco Bell chihuahua from a few years back?

    BetaCandy, you can tell me if I’m being too cynical, but my first thought upon reading this was – that was the pitch meeting, ‘We can remake Lady & The Tramp, only we’ll update it so she’s a Valley Girl, and he’s that Taco Bell chihuaha! It’ll be a blast!”

  11. says

    Oh, and Melpomene, you want to make a bet about whether or not there will be a fannish defense of the films along the lines of “But Mexican men really ARE all macho and swaggering, so it isn’t really racist/sexist to depict a Mexican character that way!” the way people are STILL frelling defending that DC “Mother of Champions” character by simultaneously saying that 1) the Great Ten are an honest attempt to be more diverse and respectful of world traditions by having a Chinese superhero team, 2) it’s not racist/sexist to have one of them be a woman whose ‘superpower’ is to give birth to litters of shortlived supersoldiers and rides around on some kind of maternity bed, because, hey, that’s just the sexist, totalitarian way that China is, you know?

    I mean, only for like a quarter…

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