Violence and Fate

There’s a reasonable argument that Wanted isn’t about making an anxiety-riddled, middle class, directionless 30-something cool via guns. Instead, it’s a statement on how easy it is to turn that demographic into a violent, heartless killer by playing into their oppression fantasies. The fault with that interpenetration is Wanted’s finale line.

After killing the final target, to which Wesley (James McAvoy) narrates his recent past in slow motion, he stares at the camera, breaking the fourth wall and says, “What the fuck have you done lately?”

Wanted wants to be one of the boys, and what it thinks those boys should be is disastrous

Thinking back to 2008, it’s remarkable Wanted found an audience, but it’s probing the same social stressors as Fight Club or The Matrix – that miserable white guy staring at an office screen, fantasizing about an escape. Wanted doesn’t have the subtext of those films – successful or otherwise – and instead spins a gun-based yarn about masculine ideals.

Spending his life apologizing to others, Wesley busts into his apartment where his girlfriend is having an affair with a co-worker Barry (Chris Pratt). After knocking his friend down, Barry says, “He’s the man,” acknowledging the now alpha male status. That is Wanted’s selling point, and in a culture treating guns like a sexual fetish, it’s disturbing. One of the first shoot-outs happens in a grocery where panicked shoppers call 911, a fresh-from-the-headlines moment that today, is especially caustic and cruel.

Other things Wanted treats as emasculating: getting treatment for mental health issues, admitting fault, and daring to ever consider a significant other’s concerns. Every relationship at home, at work, should be a dominate one. Any middle class angst is solvable with a bullet, but in this case, not just a bullet, rather curved ones. That’s confidence, ingrained deeper into the culture by movies like Wanted, and now locked into an additional political war around guns – as if that problem were any less relevant in 2008 (it wasn’t).

It’s the “cool” factor that causes Wanted to go wrong, that domineering effort to make everything it does the ultimate male fantasy, including Angelina Jolie’s casting so Wesley has a shapely figure to learn from. Wanted taps into the videogame-driven zeitgeist, and features less nuance than most genre shooters in that medium, many of which openly admit to exploiting war or military themes for profit. Wanted wants to be one of the boys, and what it thinks those boys should be is disastrous.


Wanted is licensed from Universal via Shout Factory, who advertise a new 4K master. It’s a good one. A solid, stable grain structure naturally sticks to the image, resolved by the encode without issue. This lets resolution and detail breathe fully, even if Wanted isn’t naturally sharp. Cinematography prefers a softer touch, if not enough to drop the definition by anything significant.

Color grading veers toward complete warmth, from the baked in flesh tones to the digital amber tint that creates consistency between scenes. This isn’t to a detriment of other primaries, as they still come alive in wide shots of the city or even in a grocery early on. Greens and blues exist right alongside the enhanced reds.

Hefty black levels exist near crush for much of the runtime, giving Wanted an accentuated depth. Dimensionality is firm and doesn’t give up. Dolby Vision brings a spark, whether it’s car headlights, signage, or the vivid explosions. Intensity is high all around, and while maybe a minor upgrade in detail from the Blu-ray, the other positives make for a safe purchase.


While begging for Atmos/DTS:X, Shout delivers the same DTS-HD 5.1 track from the Blu-ray. Thankfully, Wanted’s audio is continual spectacle. Bullet trails follow the track with thick, powerful bass. Explosions and crashes jump from the subwoofer with brilliant, powerful range. Even music stings provide a jolt.

Surrounds effortlessly dress the soundstage in shattering glass, bullets, or accentuated heartbeats. Every speaker has a presence during any action scene, positioning audio widely around the screen. The entire collapsing train sequence is aural magic in this way.


Shout ports the bonuses from the previous Blu-ray, but does include the new master in HD too. Featurettes are too brief. An alternate opening, which while visually nifty, would have ruined a later scene of the film. One (yes, just one) extended scene comes from the training portion of the movie.

Three different visual effects pieces should have been combined into one 18-minute segment. They focus on the different types of effects, and how specific shots were accomplished in decent if brief detail. Those who are interested in the comic the film is based on will take in The Origins of Wanted, interviewing the comics creator. Some animated comics are also tossed on the disc. A featurette on the director lasts for nine minutes, and a feature on the cast and crew (although it does briefly cover other things) goes on for 20 minutes.

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Wanted’s main conceit, that being cool doesn’t mean just shooting things, but doing so with flair, is entirely uncomfortable 15 years later.

User Review
4 (1 vote)

The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 40 full resolution uncompressed 4K screen shots grabbed directly from the UHD:

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