James McAvoy is quickly becoming the new heartthrob from the British Isles (he was the love interest in "Becoming Jane" and "Atonement"). It's not surprising, then, that he's in almost every frame of "Wanted," a comic book adaptation directed by Timur Bekmambetov (best known for "Night Watch"), and that the movie largely rises and falls based on his performance.
McAvoy plays Wesley Gibson, a man trapped in a boring office job, wasting his life away. One fateful night, however, he runs into both a man out to destroy him, and a mysterious woman who protects him. He soon learns that he's the son of a famous assassin, and that he's inherited his father's superhuman physical abilities.
The film differs significantly from the comic books in that the guild of assassins is depicted not as a cadre of supervillains, but as a force for stability. McAvoy is strongest here when depicting Wesley in his awful, office drone life, or when showing Wesley feeling joy and confidence with each assassination he participates in. The third act, though, is a bit less fun, mostly because McAvoy never really presents rage and the thirst for revenge appropriately.
The film is pretty derivative, with obvious cribbing from "The Matrix." We've seen this brand of carefree, effortless gunslinging before in "Equilibrium," too, and to be honest, it's just not as fresh this time around. Still, the production values are high, the action scenes are decent, and it's a fun popcorn movie that probably has the most impact on the big screen.