Scottish comic book writer Mark Millar's ultra-violent graphic novel gets the Hollywood blockbuster treatment in this sfx-heavy actioner that benefits from the skewered perspective of Russian director Timur Bekmambetov, who previously delivered the imaginative fantasies Night Watch and Day Watch. Millar’s fellow Scot James McAvoy takes the lead as Wesley Gibson, a depressed Chicago office worker who’s resigned to a life that sucks until Angelina Jolie’s action babe Fox introduces him to a secret society of super-assassins.
Although the film jettisons the second two thirds of Millar’s novel – which pits the super-assassins against a cartel of spandex-clad super-powered villains who secretly rule the world – it does retain the book’s anarchic attitude and irreverent humour. The script by American writers Michael Brandt, Derek Haas and Chris Morgan could have been a bit sharper, and the toning down of the more extreme elements of the source material – freed from the constraints of normal society, Wesley becomes a murdering rapist in the book – leaves the film lacking in edge, but Bekmambetov’s quirky stylistic excesses and his robust handling of the action sequences make up for the script’s weaknesses. And McAvoy makes a convincing job of playing Wesley as both pathetic slacker and, following his indoctrination into The Fraternity, as an acrobatic marksman who can shoot bullets around corners from the roof of a speeding train.
General release from Fri 27 Jun.