Saving summer sellouts

"Welcome... to the Fraternity. This gun you're holding belonged to your father; he could conduct a symphony orchestra with it." Sloan (Morgan Freeman)

It's never comfortable to find out your estranged father was a great assassin, nor is it comforting to know that his ancient "Fraternity" of assassins needs you to avenge your father's death. A little Hamlet, a bit of Matrix, and a tad of Da Vinci Code, Wanted tells of Wesley Gibson's (James McAvoy) change from a "pussy" account manager to a world-class assassin under the guidance of Fraternity teachers Fox (Angelina Jolie ) and Sloan (Morgan Freeman).

Wanted doesn't lack for imagination in its magical realism of bullets bending in flight and wounds miraculously disappearing, nor does it lack for clich?s and stereotypes of the thriller genre, including car chases as good as any others in contemporary cinema. After all, that CGI stuff is what American films do best, often at the expense of crisp dialogue or deep characterization.

Even the actors are their own stereotypes: Jolie's Fox (now that's truth in advertising) plays a dangerous operative who can shoot a giant firearm as if she were Lara Croft; Freeman's voice once again soothes the savages; James McAvoy does the Toby Maguire innocence just right. And although Jolie has the least dialogue, and probably the biggest salary, the shot of her backside may be the most memorable image outside of the spectacular train wreck high over a gorge.

As in so many action-packed, hero-driven movies today, the hunt is not just for bad guys but also for who the hero is as a person, a quest saving these summer sellouts from shameless superficiality.

Fox: I knew your father.
Wesley: My father died,
Wesley: the week I was born.
Fox: Your father died yesterday in the rooftop of the Metropolitan Building. He was one of the greatest assassins who ever lived. And the other one is behind you [shoots].