If no one had told you that Wanted was based on a series of comic books, you probably could have guessed it. The film occupies a very familiar space between the sublimely silly and the oddly profound, using lots of visual razzle-dazzle to trick you into lowering your expectations and settling for little more than a fun ride, and then it hits you with plot twists that make you think, "Whoa." Or at least, "Huh!"
Let's start with the opening titles, which tell us that the film is about a society of assassins that grew out of a secret "clan of weavers" about a thousand years ago. I must confess I giggled at this, as the concept seemed to be a direct nod to the Freemasons and other legendary secret societies, and the notion of muscular, cold-blooded killers coming out of the textile industry rather than those who split and carve stone seemed pretty absurd. But as we get to know these assassins, who call themselves The Fraternity, we discover that they serve a higher calling than mercenaries who work for cash or licensed-to-kill superspies who work for national governments; these assassins work for Fate, and they can decipher the will of Fate in the threads that come from their looms. And then I remembered that the Fates, according to ancient Greek mythology, controlled the destinies of men—and even the gods—by spinning, measuring and cutting the threads of each person's life.
So, there are deeper themes at play here, and the movie, to its credit, is well aware of them, even if it handles them in the pulpiest manner possible. The story itself—credited to Michael Brandt and Derek Hass, who collaborated on the morally ambiguous remake of 3:10 to Yuma, and to Chris Morgan, whose Cellular was one of the more enjoyable ...1