Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Movie Musings: "What The Fuck Have You Done Lately?"

***This blog post and its links contain spoilers for the movie Wanted
(in case you cared).***

The movie Wanted is a 2008 action movie starring Angelina Jolie, James McAvoy, and Morgan Freeman. It's loud, messy, and violent as all action movies are. I thought a reviewer described it best:
"Wanted may be the most absolutely stone bonkers, crazy-good movie of the century. Or it may be a gargantuan piece of trash. Chances are it's a combination of the two. But man, does it rock." - Tom Long, Detroit News, 2008-06-27 (reference noted in the link above).
After a couple of years I think the movie veers more towards the "piece of trash" reference but the movie does boast some impressive action sequences such as the opening sequence and the death of super assassin Mr. X, the red car chase scene with Jolie and McAvoy, and the scene where McAvoy goes on a shooting rampage through a textile mill. There's also the novelties of "curving" bullets by using a particular technique while firing them out of a handgun (impossible, if you didn't know that already), and Morgan Freeman saying the word "fuck." There's McAvoy rebelling against his bitchy boss and slamming his keyboard in his best friend's face. His best friend is screwing his girlfriend. That's a great scene, by the way, for anyone who's ever dreamed standing up to the people who really piss us off but we can't really do anything about. It's childish but this is only a movie.

For me, and the point of this post, the best part of the movie is the end. McAvoy's character, Wesley, who has been a passive nerd for most of his life, has been trained to be a super assassin and has stood up against those people who are using him for their own ends. During the ending sequence, he blasts through the fourth wall and lists his accomplishments. He ends by looking at the audience and asking:

What The Fuck Have You Done Lately?

After more than two years, watching this ending still gives me the chills. After more than two years, I still ask myself this question. I used to carry a 3x5 card around where I could see it with this sentence written on it. I've done the electronic equivalent by writing it down on a large post-it, photographing it, and turning it into my wallpaper on my Droid phone. When my marriage was falling apart a very good friend of mine gave me a new mantra. She said my new mantra was "Fuck It." This is just an extension of that mantra and much more useful.

I'm not trying to offend anyone here by asking this question. This is a question I ask myself. This question makes me think about what I've done lately and if it's in line with what I want my life to be like. It's too easy to get complacent. It's too easy to keep doing the same shit day in and day out. There are other mantras, nicer sounding ones certainly, but this one makes me want to grit my teeth and grab life by the balls. This one makes me actually want to do something with myself. It's an ongoing battle to stay alert and focused on what's important. If part of that process involves watching McAvoy's character glare at me and ask that question then I'm all for it.

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