“The Spiritual Journey of Wesley”

This.
Movie.
Rules.

Wanted is an unholy mess of a movie. It features a ridiculous defiance of the laws of physics, an over-the-top edge, and moments that make you want to jump out of your seat to high five a buddy. It’s high energy, testosterone driven fantasy and was everything Hitman didn’t have enough of. You expect a certain amount of idiocy out of a “guy”/popcorn movie, and this movie didn’t disappoint.

Sadsack office worker bee, Wesley Gibson (Atonement‘s James McAvoy) hates everything about his life. The meaningless routine, his cheating girlfriend, his leech of a best friend, his boss – nothing seems to be in his control. Enter the heavily tattooed Angelina Jolie (whose butt we hadn’t seen since Beowulf, but what guy movie would be complete without gratuitous nudity), the assassin known as Fox, who disrupts his life with a legacy he didn’t know he had.

“Your long awaited destiny to join us.” –Sloan (Morgan Freeman)

His father, whose gifts Wesley has inherited, was a premier assassin, a member of a secret society of good assassins, The Fraternity, which his killer is out to destroy. These good guys get their targets from the Loom of Fate, the targets names needing to be interpreted from the cloth spit out by the loom. Okay, maybe this plot works better as the comic book, written by Mark Millar.

“Insanity is wasting your life as a nothing.” –Sloan

Wanted is this year’s entry for “we want to be like the Matrix … except different”—sort of The Matrix as a revenge movie—with Angelina as Trinity, Sloan as Morpheus, and Wesley rounding out the Trinity as Neo. Wesley begins his journey locked into a life of repetitive minutiae, the tedious ordinary, suffocating under the mediocrity of his days wasting his talents. He sees signs all around him—in fact, everything in this movie tells a story, from newspaper snippets, to store signs, to flying keyboard keys, to the tattoos—that there is more to life than he’s been led (or been deadened) to believe.

“This is not me fulfilling my destiny.” –Wesley

Wesley’s journey finally kicks in once he has his end of self moment which leaves him lamenting “I’m finding it really hard to care about anything these days.” He recognizes the “shit life” that he has, and that he has been essentially living a lie. The identity he thought he had was a false on, so intricately built up yet meaningless that he’s left thinking that “I don’t know who I am.” He needs someone to come alongside him, point to the caged lion trapped inside him and provide a key to unlock it. Because as Pekwarsky (Terence Stamp) eventually tells him, “Your father wanted a different path for you to go your own way.”

Wesley: What do you repair?
The Repairman: A lifetime of bad habits

The journey of discipleship doesn’t have to begin with having your face smashed in, as much as that would cut to the chase of matters. Wesley wants to step into his father’s shoes rather than continue to piss his life away. His life becomes about finding a connection to his father, a new way of life, and a Master-Teacher for that life. Wesley decides that “I have to prepare. I have to become his student” in order to become a true apprentice.

So he begins a regimen of study and preparation; to learn the history of this called out group, this ekklesia or Fraternity, until he is ready to snatch the pebble from his master’s hand (or in this case, the shuttle from the loom). The key to any sort of discipleship relationship is that you have to make sure that the chosen Master-Teacher is the right Master-Teacher. The best ways to tell are by examining what kind of person you are being formed into and by asking questions.

“I think you owe me some answers.” –Wesley
“Are you sure you’re ready for the answers.” –Sloan

The Fraternity, which began around the simple truth and way of life, had an entire institution built up around it. The Loom of Fate provided the Scripture, the interpretation of their faith. Sloan set himself up as the apostle with a prophetic gift of divining what the Scriptures have to say. Wesley became the disciple who executed orders which supposedly maintains the balance; or as Sloan tells him, “Like an apostle, your path is not to interpret but to deliver.”

“We’re supposed to take it on faith that what we do is right.” –Wesley

The opposite of faith isn’t doubt, but certainty. Too late in his journey, though better late than never, Wesley questions his calling and path. On the surface, there is a lot of truth in the Fraternity, they do a lot of good things, but there are also a lot of lies. One has to keep questioning in order to make sure the institution they serve/follow hasn’t become corrupt or that a thug who can use the Scriptures to his own ends installs himself. You have to go to the Scriptures yourself, decipher them for yourself, ask the tough questions and search out the elusive answers no matter where they take you.

Sometimes the only way to get to the spirit of the law is to deconstruct the letter of it. And sometimes the institution needs to say “I’m sorry.”

“What the fuck have you done lately?” –Wesley

Director Timur Bekmambetov brought us the great film Night Watch (and its follow up, Day Watch) and brings his mayhem to an American film. Nothing quite a new as bullet time, but more of a combination of a variation on it and the gun fu from Equilibrium, and there are plenty of “think of the fuzzy bunnies” moments. Wanted is strictly about visceral thrills, a hot chick with guns, dizzying stunts. It does everything you want out of this kind of movie, so turn off your brain and enjoy the ride.

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