What is it like being Timur Bekmambetov? No artist should be confused too closely with his creations, but anybody who sits through “Wanted,” Bekmambetov’s new movie, will be tempted to wonder if the life style of the characters might not reflect or rub off on that of the director. How, for example, does he make a cup of coffee? My best guess, based on the evidence of the film, is that he tosses a handful of beans toward the ceiling, shoots them individually into a fine powder, leaves it hanging in the air, runs downstairs, breaks open a fire hydrant with his head, carefully directs the jet of water through the window of his apartment, sets fire to the building, then stands patiently with his mug amid the blazing ruins to collect the precious percolated drops. Don’t even think about a cappuccino.
Chris Orr, in a review that does a really excellent job of teasing out the film’s almost aggressive amorality, points out one thing I thought about commenting on but left out of my review:
[Director Timur Bekmambetov] seems poised to reinvigorate the action genre in much the way John Woo did 20 years ago.
Wanted isn’t as good as The Matrix, but Bekmambetov is the first action director who seems to be explicitly following up on the promise of bullet time and the Wachowskis’ brand of hyperreal action. In the years since that film was released, slow-mo gun fights and explosions have become a cliche. Bekmambetov is the first director to really develop it beyond what the Wachowskis first showed us. Bekmambetov isn’t as good as the Wachowskis or Woo at pacing his action sequences — he’s yet to develop much of a sense of pacing, build, or control — but he’s easily the most exciting new pure action director of the decade.