If it seems like Angelina Jolie’s name is popping up more often, well, it’s because it is. Not only is her name a hit in the movie theaters but on streaming as well. Wanted is a 2008 action thriller that is climbing the global Netflix chart, checking in at spot number eight.
Wanted stars Angelina Jolie as a member of the Fraternity, a group of assassins who help maintain the balance in the world. The story revolves around Wesley Gibson, played by James McAvoy. Wesley works an office job, has an overbearing boss, a girlfriend that cheats on him with his “best friend,” and panic attacks that require him to take meds.
One evening, as his boring life continues on, Wesley is approached by Fox (Angelina Jolie), who proceeds to tell him that his father, who was recently murdered, was an assassin and the man who killed him, Cross, is now after Wesley. Of course, Wesley believes none of this until Cross appears and a shootout between Fox and Cross begins. Wesley panics, then blacks out.
Upon waking, Wesley finds himself in a factory surrounded by other assassins. Leading the way is Sloan (Morgan Freeman), who begins to explain just who the Fraternity is and what part Wesley plays in all of it. Sloan also explains to Wesley that his panic attacks are something else entirely. They actually are Wesley’s rare ability to dump massive amounts of adrenaline into his brain, thus allowing him to slow his surroundings and give him superhuman strength and speed. Sloan also informs him that his father, as well as his father’s killer, were both members of the Fraternity.
Back at his apartment, Wesley wakes to a large sum of money in his bank. Sensing an end to his worries, Wesley takes care of business at work with his boss, his ex-best friend, and a waiting Fox (Angelina Jolie) returns him to the factory where Wesley begins his training to become a member of the Fraternity.
As Wesley learns the ways of the Fraternity from assassins with names such as The Gunsmith, The Exterminator, The Repairman, and The Butcher, Wesley feels he is ready. Sloan feels differently but then shows Wesley the “Loom of Fate.” This is a code that identifies those who will create chaos and evil. Sloan has the ability to read this code.
Wesley completes a couple of successful missions but then is caught in an unexpected shootout with Cross. During the fight, Wesley accidentally kills the Exterminator while taking a bullet from Cross in the shoulder. Thirsting for revenge, Sloan finally allows Wesley to go after Cross, secretly telling Angelina Jolie’s character that she must kill Wesley because his name came up on the Loom.
The bullet to Wesley’s shoulder holds the key, though. Upon analyzing it, Wesley finds out that the bullet is traceable, something Cross has never used before. Tracking down the maker of the bullet, Wesley is finally able to come face-to-face with his father’s killer. Until Cross drops the bombshell that harkens back to a certain Star Wars father-son scenario. Cross is really Wesley’s father and Sloan has been manipulating the Fraternity for his own gain.
While Wanted focuses on McAvoy’s Wesley, Angelina Jolie definitely makes her presence felt. The script went through many variations and was rewritten by Dean Georgaris specifically for Jolie. Mark Millar, who wrote the comic book in which Wanted was based, noted of Jolie’s acceptance of the role that “the only way they could have got a bigger star to play this role is if they’d hired Tom Cruise in drag.”
Russian director Timur Bekmambetov took the reins of Wanted and was given $75 million by Universal Pictures to bring the movie in. Millar, who wasn’t thrilled with the first draft of the script, was much more comfortable when Bekmambetov came on board with his “Eastern European madness” and his stated intent of the film coming much closer to the spirit of the comic.
Wanted was a hit all the way around. Critics fell for the movie, saying Angelina Jolie, James McAvoy, and Morgan Freeman’s performances made the movie. Audiences liked the film as well with Wanted earning almost $342 at the box office.
For Angelina Jolie, Wanted came at a time when the actress carried some weight at the box office. Her previous films such as Mr. & Mrs. Smith, A Mighty Heart, Beowulf, and Changeling all fared well for her so Wanted was not an unexpected hit. What was unexpected was the little amount of work Jolie would have in the following decade.
After Angelina Jolie completed The Tourist in 2010, it was four years before she was seen again in Disney’s Maleficent. After that, Jolie was seen in two movies, the 2015 By the Sea and her return to her evil ways in the 2019 Disney sequel, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil.
It appears now, though, that Angelina Jolie is enjoying a bit of a revival. In 2020, Year of the COVID, she starred in Come Away while also voicing the role of Stella in Disney’s The One and Only Ivan. Just recently she premiered in Those Who Wish Me Dead to good reviews and next up for the actress is the highly anticipated Marvel’s Eternals where she will play Thena. Also on deck for Jolie is the drama Every Note Played where she plays the ex-wife of a piano virtuoso who is diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Wanted has not yet hit Netflix in the U.S. but with its global climb, it shouldn’t be too long before it hits the U.S. streamer. Keep an eye out for it, Wanted is definitely worth a viewing.