Follow TV Tropes


Film / Wanted

Go To
Curve the tropes.

"This is the role Angelina Jolie was born to play. She emerged from the womb already covered in tattoos and eyeliner for the express purpose of playing this character, who immediately entered my pantheon of Chicks I Want to Be Like When I Grow Up. Fox is the reason Angelina Jolie was put on this earth."

Wanted is a 2008 action thriller directed by Timur Bekmambetov. It is very loosely based on, or at least named after, a comic-book miniseries by Mark Millar, with very different characters, themes, and setting.

Meet Wesley Gibson (James McAvoy). His father abandoned him when he was a week old, and things have gone steadily downhill since. He works for a disgusting boss at a job he hates before going home to a girlfriend who's sleeping with his best friend Barry (Chris Pratt). But suddenly, Wesley is tapped by Fox (Angelina Jolie) to join The Fraternity, a league of elite international assassins. He is trained specifically to kill Cross (the rogue Fraternity member who killed his father), mostly by getting the shit kicked out of him by the rest of the team.

Wes learns many plot-relevant skills, including the pretty sweet ability to bend bullets. No, they don't really explain how, and no, they don't really need to. He uses these abilities to take down several nefarious do-badders, until it's finally time to confront Cross. Cue the giant showdown on a moving train... and on a crashing train... and on a falling train. But hey, at least Wesley finally gets his man — or does he?

Of course he doesn't. He just runs headlong into The Reveal, which sets up the real finale. A sequel for the movie is currently in Development Hell.

There is a game, Weapons of Fate, that draws plot elements from both the comic book and the film (most notably, Wesley in his original costume and the Russian assassin that serves as a Plot Point in the movie). The game starts shortly after the movie ends, and is notable both for being a sequel instead of a recreation, and for taking a year after the movie's release for development with the explicit goal of not falling into the "rushed product to match the movie's release date and hype" trap. Naturally, opinions vary on the success.

The Wanted movie and game provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Abnormal Ammo: Wesley kills The Butcher by shooting a butcher's steel that jammed into his gun into him.
  • Action Survivor: Wesley at first, before he Took a Level in Badass.
  • Adaptational Heroism: The Fraternity in the film adaptation are much less villainous than the Fraternity in the original comic book. They weren't merely corrupt assassins, they were supervillains who engaged in murder and rape on a regular basis (Fox, for example, introduces herself to Wesley by killing a room full of innocent bystanders). Even Wesley himself didn't shy away from engaging in these atrocities either.
  • Archaic Weapon for an Advanced Age: The film is set in the late 2000s, but some of the weapons used by the Fraternity members are heavily modified flintlocks, wheellocks, muskets, or breech-loading pistols.
  • Adrenaline Makeover: A rare male, delayed action case in Wesley. He meets Fox, then goes back to his own mundane life. But one snarky remark too many from his boss sets the makeover in motion.
  • Artificial Intelligence: Inverted. The equivalent of The Machine in Person of Interest is an ancient loom.
  • Artistic Licence – Physics:
    • The main principle behind Curved Bullets is an assassin using Super-Senses to fire while flinging the arm so fast, it produces a Curveball effect even in closed space. Assuming this works by Magnus Effect and Spin Drift, which does cause long-range sniper shots deviate from the path, slightly, for close-range it would either require great wind on its path or a force in the pistol to produce a spin so strong it would evaporate any known material.
    • Even if Fox's modified Safari Arms Matchmaster 1911 and bullets are Made of Indestructium, bullets for the most of the film bend their trajectory, but don't rotate. To be able to perform a circular movement like in the climax, a bullet would require something constantly pushing it horizontally, midair.
  • Ancient Tradition: The Fraternity, an ancient order of assassins that Sloan says was started nearly 2,000 years ago.
  • Anti-Hero: Wesley is mostly a Villain Protagonist, and doesn't really benefit from Sympathetic P.O.V.. He does, however, qualify for Nominal Hero.
  • Alternative Foreign Theme Song: The Japanese version uses the song "DAIGO" by Breakerz as its ending theme.
  • Apologizes a Lot: Wesley. Lampshaded, and later Subverted.
    Fox: You apologize too much.
    Wesley: I'm sorry about that too.
  • Because Destiny Says So: Played straight, subverted, then played straight. The Loom of Fate does really have names within it that belong to people that are supposed to die, but Wesley finds out that Sloan has been making fake kill orders to benefit himself and that he had been hiding kill orders for himself and other members of the Fraternity. After Sloan reveals his corruption near the end of the movie, Fox fulfills all those kill orders (saved for Sloan), including the one for herself.
  • Better Living Through Evil: Wesley does this even though he is unaware that the guy he is working for is evil.
  • Big Damn Kiss: Fox kisses Wesley dramatically in Wesley's old apartment when he goes to retrieve his father's pistol. Bonus points for showing up his former girlfriend in the process.
  • Big "SHUT UP!": When Wesley snaps at Janice after pushing him over the edge: "SHUT THE FUCK UP!"
  • Bittersweet Ending: Sure, Sloan and everyone else who manipulated Wesley is dead, but he killed his own father, lost the love interest, and is wanted, unemployable, and once again broke. Though, he seems to have inherited his father’s contacts and resources, so there’s that.
  • Bizarre and Improbable Ballistics: If the phrase "bullet curving" doesn't say it all, what would? (The TV series Mythbusters attempted to replicate it and concluded it was impossible.)
  • Blood from the Mouth: The Russian bombmaker when he is dying. Fox also gets blood in her mouth after trying to give him CPR.
  • Book Ends: Using a decoy to get the target onto an "X" marked on the floor and sniping them from an incredibly long distance. The sniper even shoots from the same building.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: The very end of the movie has Wesley asking the audience, "What the fuck have you done lately?"
  • Bullet Time: Used frequently, especially when showing bullet curving.
  • The Bully: Wesley's boss is loud, overbearing, condescending, cusses at Wesley and verbally abuses him, and snaps her stapler in his ear. During Wesley's "The Reason You Suck" Speech, he reveals that she is this way to her entire staff.
  • The Butcher: One of the Fraternity agents has this as his codename (Pussy, pussy!).
  • Car Chase Shoot-Out: Proceeding Cross attacking Wesley and Fox (who was sent to protect Wesley) in a grocery store, Fox escorts Wesley away using a sports car while Cross steals a delivery truck culminating in a car chase. It doesn't become a shoot out until halfway through when Cross starts using his pistol, to which Fox takes out her own pistol and a shotgun to return fire.
  • Car Fu:
    • Fox boards a moving train from the side via car.
    • Wesley is assisted by Fox in flipping of his car to somersault over that of an open-topped limousine that was bulletproof on the sides in order to shoot through the open sunroof.
  • Chekhov's Gun
    • The exploding rats. Possibly a Shout-Out to Ninja Scroll, considering the same trick is used to down a villain in that movie.
    • The sniper rifle from the beginning of the movie.
    • The El train.
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu
    • Even more obvious in Weapons of Fate, where the enemies, ostensibly members of the French Fraternity, don't seem to know how to curve bullets unless it's one or two Elite Mooks in a quicktime event. It's more glaring than in the movie, as the player will be doing it themselves for the entire game.
  • Contract on the Hitman: At first it's Fox's assignment to kill Wesley. It's then revealed that everyone in the Fraternity had a order against them, including Sloan.
  • Corrupt Politician: At least one target.
  • Concealment Equals Cover: During the grocery store shootout, Fox and Wesley hide behind a grocery store shelf full of cereal while Fox trades gunfire with Cross. Of course, In this case, Concealment was more than enough, as Cross did not want to risk shooting his own son.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Wesley does this a lot in Weapons of Fate, and it's often Casual Danger Dialogue as well.
  • Don't Think, Feel: When Sloan teaches Wesley how to curve bullets.
    Sloan: If no one told you that bullets flew straight, and I gave you a gun and told you to hit the target, what would you do? Let your instincts guide you.
  • Emasculated Cuckold: The beginning has the protagonist Wesley in a relationship with a girlfriend who is blatantly cheating on him with his best friend, and him being powerless to do anything about it. He later makes out in front of her with his new girlfriend.
  • Expecting Someone Taller: Sloan to Wesley when they first meet.
  • Fanservice:
    • Fox is woken up by the Exterminator exploding a rat and gets out of the bath nude and topless from the back, her tattoos on display.
    • The sex scenes where the protagonist's "girlfriend" is cheating on him with his "best friend".
    • Wesley appears shirtless, dripping wet, and wearing a leather jacket at one point.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Note to self: check the floor for big X's.
  • Good All Along: Cross. Turns out that his killing of other Fraternity members was to get rid of Sloan's corruption and his attempts to capture Wesley was to try to prevent his son from becoming Sloan's pawn.
  • Good Is Not Soft: Fox's general attitude. She believes that killing people is a necessary evil to protect others, that the death of one may save many more.
  • Gun Kata: And Knife Kata. To give you an idea of the impossible feats performed in the movie...Wesley is first asked to shoot the wings off a couple of flies. And does.
  • Healing Factor: Induced by the recovery pools that seal you in with candle wax.
  • Hitman with a Heart: Wesley Gibson tries to be a good guy. He is reluctant to kill someone just because a machine printing out a piece of cloth says so. He wants to be sure they are really bad people before offing them, but Fox convinces him to stay the course by saying that her father was murdered because a Fraternity member failed to kill the man. Subverted in the original comic: Wesley is a Supervillain who happily rapes and slaughters because as a Supervillain he has the authority to get away with anything he does.
  • In Name Only: The movie takes out almost all of the the original comic's story and background, dropping the source material's costumed supervillain trappings in favour of a more grounded (although still heavily stylised) approach. The premise in its most broad strokes stays the same: the main character is a cuckolded loser who is brought into a World of Badass by a love interest due to his long-lost and supposedly deceased father. Beyond that, the story and setting are completely different.
  • Ironic Echo:
    • "I'm sorry!"
    • "I'm the man!"/"He's the man"
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Played straight with the crazy sniping and bullet curving nonsense. The film's Book Ends involve Cross (at the start) and Wesley (at the end) making a successful head shot with a sniper rifle from what is implied to be an insane distance, even by long-ranger sniper standards.
  • It's A Small Net After All: apparently no pages on the in-film Internet contain either the words "Wesley" or "Gibson". It's possible this is one of Wesley's self-deprecating daydreams, like when he imagines the ATM is telling him he's a loser. Also, if you do a search for the name "Wesley Gibson" the only pages that show are those related to the movie or appeared after its release.
  • Like a Duck Takes to Water: Wesley Gibson. Pathetic cubicle rat = badass assassin. His "panic attacks" make him look like an absolute loser - when someone starts bullying him, he appears to just blow apart at the seams. Turns out that they're actually the the untrained expression of a rare superhuman ability; when stressed, the drastically increased heart rate and adrenaline levels result in Bullet Time - bursts of superhuman strength, speed, and reflexes.
  • Loser Protagonist: Wesley begins the movie as a man dissastisfied with his life, working a dead-end desk job under a verbally abusive boss and having a cheating girlfriend and "piece-of-shit" bestfriend. After being inducted into the Fraternity, he undergoes an adrenaline makeover into a badass assassin, and regains control over his life.
  • This Loser Is You: Essentially the theme of the film.
    • "This is me taking back control of my life. What the fuck have you done lately?"
  • Lost in Imitation: The movie more closely resembles The Matrix than the source material. Which is unsurprising when you consider how hard it would be to adapt the source material into a movie without it being declared unwatchable.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Cross to Wesley.
  • Madden Into Misanthropy: Wesley at the beginning of the film goes through life depressed like a zombie, bored and depressed because of a shitty life which consists of: a nagging, cheating live-in girlfriend, a scummy “best friend”, who is fucking his girlfriend and later mooches off of him after he dropped his wallet in Wesley’s apartment, a mean boss who harasses him at work and gives him panic attacks by yelling and snapping her stapler at his head, and being perpetually broke.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Fox and Wesley kissing, to keep on mundane things.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • The ending of the movie. Last words spoken by Sloan: "Oh, fuck." * splat*
    • One of the thugs shooting at Mr. X has a moment after Mr. X completes his jump between the buildings. He knows he's about to get his brains blown out of his face before it even happens.
  • Our Ancestors Are Superheroes: Wesley is unknowingly descended from a secret society of assassins dating back centuries with innate superhuman powers. An example of Type 2.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: James McAvoy does an amazing job with his American accent...except in one scene after Wesley first tries (and fails) to catch the shuttle and tries to say Screw This, I'm Outta Here. Sloan tells him that he'll be ready when Fox says he's ready. When Wesley asks who put her in charge, you can hear a bit of James's Scottish accent slip through.
  • Pointy-Haired Boss: Janice abuses, intimidates, and belittles her staff so she feels better about herself.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: Put simply, a faithful adaptation of the original comic would need to either be unrated or be bowdlerized within an inch of its life. This version takes what it likes from the comic and leaves the rest.
  • Precision F-Strike:
    • Sloan memorably combines it with an Oh, Crap! moment for the linked trope's page quote.
    • "Shoot this motherfucker..." (you'd never expect Morgan Freeman to say this)
    • "SHUT THE FUCK UP!!"
    • A visual one concludes the scene in which Wesley walks out of his job, involving a keyboard and a broken tooth.
  • Pretty Little Headshots: Particularly in the finale, but averts the "minor bleeding" considering the bullet holes bleed copiously.
  • Race Lift:
    • In the comic, Fox was modeled upon Halle Berry. In the film, she's portrayed by Angelina Jolie.
    • Janice, Wesley's Mean Boss, got the exact same lift. They even changed the narration from "African-American" to "anorexic" to accommodate this...a nice bit of sarcastic irony since she's obese.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Angelina Jolie's noted collection of tattoos, particularly on her back, is incorporated into the character of Fox (and adjusted accordingly). To date this is the only movie where her tattoos have been embraced as opposed to being covered up in some way.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Wesley gives an absolutely epic one to his Mean Boss just before he quits, and to top it off slugs his former best friend in the face with a keyboard on his way out. Made even more awesome by the fact that several keys and one of the guy's teeth break off for a visual Precision F-Strike. He gives another one to Sloan, after he reveals that he’s corrupt to the surviving members of his rampage upon the Fraternity.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Fox follows the code. (A variation since she was just serving an evil man, not evil herself — the same moment contains shades of Heroic Sacrifice and Driven to Suicide.)
    • Although, What You Are in the Dark may trump this. Since Fox had explained that she serves the loom, her choice was to kill everyone Sloan just said the loom named as a target, including herself. If you never went evil, you can't be redeemed, and she had the chance. She just didn't take it.
  • Road Block: The Chicago police create one during the car chase between Fox and Cross, which fails because Fox flips the Dodge Viper she’s been driving over the barricade and lands it on a bus. It doesn’t even stop Cross's stolen van, as it had already been abandoned and ended ups rolling then stopping in front of the barricade.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Basically the last twenty minutes of the film.
  • Rule of Cool: Pretty much the whole freaking thing. It basically takes refuge in audacity.
  • Say My Name: Wesley shouts Sloan's name not once, not twice, but ''three full times'' near the climax of the movie.
  • Screw Destiny: If this film has any message, it’s this.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Wesley unknowingly became one of these, killing his Disappeared Dad because the Fraternity used him as an Unwitting Pawn — the one person the rogue assassin who was decimating their ranks would never kill. Naturally, he was told that he was hunting the man who killed his father, instead.
  • Shirtless Scene: The scene where Wesley finds out his father's real whereabouts and his saferoom.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Top Gun gets one when Wesley asks if Fox is a callsign, like Maverick.
    • Of course, the whole thing could practically be a The Matrix Shout-Out.
    • All names that come up for assassinations are encoded on quilts, just like how Madame Defarge from A Tale of Two Cities knitted codes on her quilt for her fellow revolutionaries so they would know which of the French nobility was to be executed.
  • Shoot the Bullet: Combined with a Bullet Time and a close-up of the bullets colliding, it makes up some of the awesome moments of both the film and the game.
  • Shoot the Dog: Actually invoked with Fox almost going to get a puppy when Wesley wouldn't shoot the corpse of an old woman.
  • Sink or Swim Mentor: Multiple. More like "Swim or get the dogshit beaten out of you".
    • Wesley is this to the player in Weapons of Fate.
  • The Smurfette Principle: The sociopathic female killer-for-hire Fox (played by Angelina Jolie) is the only female member of an ancient fraternity of assassins, and (what else did you expect) the top-ranking member.
  • Soul-Crushing Desk Job: Wesley's life was a crappy one with this crappy job and a boss who was a total bitch, and whose coworker and best friend is cheating with his girlfriend. That was before his life was turned upside down when he joins an elite international assassins group.
  • Storming the Castle: The film's entire final act is Wesley doing this to the Fraternity.
  • Swarm of Rats: Weaponized in the final shootout, when Wesley, using hundreds and hundreds of rats he lured into a dump truck via peanut butter, crashes his vehicle into the Fraternity's headquarters and releasing the rats. And then shooting everyone in the chaos.
  • Take My Hand!: Wesley's father to Wesley... and then Wesley shoots him, triggering another train collapse.
  • Take This Job and Shove It: See "The Reason You Suck" Speech above.
  • Teeth Flying: When the main character snaps, quits his job and smacks his backstabbing "best friend" on the way out with his keyboard, we're treated to a Bullet Time shot of a series of broken keys spelling out "FUCK YO" with his bloody tooth forming the final "U".
  • Theme Music Power-Up: The moment you hear the Epic Riff from "The Little Things", either shit just went down, or it's about to.
  • This Loser Is You: "What the fuck have you done lately?"
  • Throw-Away Guns: Wesley, during his major assault on the mill. Why waste time reloading your gun when you can take the guns from your dead enemies?
  • Title Drop: After the shootout in a grocery store and car chase, Wesley and Fox are now suspects. A newspaper shows security camera photos of them with WANTED as a big bold headline above them.
  • Took a Level in Badass: The entire movie is basically this for Wesley.
  • Toplessness from the Back: Fox's back and bare ass is shown as she’s coming out of the bath, covered in elaborate tattoos.
  • Training from Hell: Wesley goes through this, regularly getting beaten and cut up, tearing his hands up trying to catch a shuttle in an industrial loom, being forced to shoot at actual human corpses, and enduring verbal and emotional abuse.
  • Training Montage: Used liberally as Wesley tries to make progress, and then begins doing so.
  • Truth in Television: First off, no, it’s impossible to curve bullets.
    • The exterminator says that rats go apeshit with peanut butter, which is true, as in real life, peanut butter is often used as a common rodent bait and it is said to work better than the classic wedge of cheese.
    • At the end, Wesley creates rat bombs in order to bomb and raid the Fraternity mill, by mixing an explosive with peanut butter, luring rats to eat it, and then strapping detonators on to them. The explosive that he finds in Cross’ apartment and then uses is called Astrolite G; the film correctly depicts the explosive as a clear, oily liquid, with the only things wrong was the color of the explosive (it's clear in real life) and that it's toxic, so the rats would've most likely died after ingesting the Astrolite/peanut-butter mixture.
  • Unknown Relative: Wesley doesn't realize that Cross is his father until after he kills him. This is foreshadowed by the fact that Cross seems bent on killing everyone but Wesley.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Fox wouldn't be who she was today, had her father not been burned alive in front of her when she was young.
  • Verbed Title: “Wanted”.
  • Villains Never Lie: When Sloan tells the Fraternity that the Loom of Fate chose each of them to die, they believe him even though Wesley just told them that Sloan has been manipulating the Loom for his own purposes. Justified; the villain is legitimately in the more trustworthy position. Who would you be more likely to believe, the boss who you've got no actual reason to distrust, or the guy who just shot up half your fortress and killed dozens of your friends, after blowing up the other half?
    • It's also totally Justified in that all of the members in the room had been doing Sloan's bidding unwittingly...meaning they had been killing innocent people that the loom hadn't chosen. Of course the Loom would pick them out then.
  • Villain Protagonist: In the comic, Wesley may come across as a funny, snarky everyman that you'd like to grab a beer with, but boy, does that change fast. In the film, he’s more noble, as he has reservations against hurting innocent people and some of the other fucked up things at the Fraternity does, like using real human corpses as targets, but he’s still a Nomial Hero in the sense that he’s completely motivated by his own desire for revenge and escape from his boring, unfulfilling life, but fighting against corrupt, self-righteous assassins who manipulated him into killing his own father, who was trying to stop them and prevent Wesley from going down a dark path.
  • Weaponized Animal: The Exterminator makes bombs which he straps to the backs of rats.
  • Wham Line: This is not me following in my father's footsteps. This is not me saving the world. This is not me... This is just the mother-fucking decoy!
  • When You Snatch the Pebble: One of Wesley's training tasks is to snatch the shuttle out of an industrial loom.
  • William Telling: Fox and Sloane are trying to get Wesley to "bend bullets," cause a bullet's trajectory to curve around an object to hit something that would normally be hidden. After Wesley fails a couple of times, Fox places herself in-between him and the target since she knows that Wesley likes her. This time, he succeeds, grazing her hair with the bullet.
  • Wolverine Publicity: Despite receiving first billing, James McAvoy is considerably smaller than Angelina Jolie on the poster (see the image at the top of this page) and the standard DVD cover (which used the same picture), but he's treated more fairly on the Blu-Ray artwork.
  • You Bastard!: A lot more subtle than the comic book, but no any less epic. As detailed in Breaking the Fourth Wall and This Loser Is You, once Wesley finishes his closing narration, he takes the opportunity to roast the audience by asking them "What the fuck have you done lately?" as the movie ends.

"What the fuck have you done lately?"


Video Example(s):


Bending Bullets

Since none of her fellow assassins will follow the Code, Fox bends a single bullet around the room, killing them all, including herself, instead.

The action is slowed way down so despite it being out of focus, we can see each and every blood spatter.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / BulletTime

Media sources: