Stuck in a dead-end job with a girlfriend (Kristen Hager) who’s cheating on him with his best friend (Chris Pratt), a ball-busting boss (Lorna Scott), and a general sense of utter futility, Wesley Gibson (James McAvoy) is not just having a bad year, but a bad life.
All this changes when he’s approached by a beautiful woman called the Fox (Angelina Jolie) who informs him his father, the greatest assassin to ever live, has just been killed and the man responsible (Thomas Kretschmann) is now gunning for him. Wesley finds himself thrown into a world he never imagined.
The Fraternity of Assassins led by Sloan (Morgan Freeman) shows Wesley he has the special talent and abilities of his father which make him a perfect candidate for the Fraternity.
Choosing to give-up his old life Wesley jumps into the training which basically entails him getting the ever-living-snot beat out of him over and over again. He trains to become the world’s best assassin able to bend bullets fired from his gun and kill from even miles away.
In this world, much like The Matrix the laws of physics can be bent which provides for some awesome, if competely unbelievable, stunt sequences involving cars, trains, guns, and even a computer keyboard. You’ll have to suspend your logic for most of this film, but you’ll be able to let your imagination run wild.
Adapted from the comic book mini-series by Mark Millar (read that review) the film is a never-ending pulse-pounding thrill-ride. It gets the feel and dark humor of Wesley’s former life and the thrill of his new one perfectly. McAvoy is well-cast here in a role which let’s him play a character who goes through signifcant changes over the course of the film. Jolie is beautiful and deadly, and the other members of the Fraternity including Freeman, Terrence Stamp, Dato Bakhtadze, and Common all play their parts well.
It does however make a couple of mistakes, mostly in deviating from Millar’s original story. Instead of super villains these are assassins. Okay, I can live with that, but the film also adds an unlikely plot device of the Loom of Fate (Loom of Fate? Come on!) which is just too silly to be taken seriously (even for a “comic book movie”).
The ending of the film also contains a twist, similar though different from the original. This is where the film deviates the most from the original source material, and in true Hollywood fashion creates a hero where one isn’t needed, or wanted. The message of Millar’s original work was that the heroes were gone, and Wesley, as cool as he is, is a dangerous prick and not the man to save the day and give you a happy ending.
Although the film makes some mistakes those unfamiliar with the graphic novel should have a grand ol’ time, and fans of the original should still be able to enjoy themselves (even with that stupid Loom of Fate). Is it everything it could have been? No, but, even if it doesn’t get the story quite right, it does bring the feel and fun of the original to the big screen and provides a couple hours of dark humor, bloodshed, and explosions which are worth the ticket price.