Anything goes in the year’s most unhinged shoot ’em up

"Six weeks ago I was ordinary. Pathetic. Just like you," says James McAvoy's Wesley Gibson, transformed from a browbeaten office drone with a cheating girlfriend and duplicitous best mate into an unstoppable hitman. Under the tutelage of Angelina Jolie's tattooed hottie Fox and Morgan Freeman's smooth-tongued Sloane – members of a 1,000-year-old secret fraternity of assassins – Wesley must fulfill his destiny as a natural-born killer. He must avenge the death of his father.

Fans of Mark Millar's outlandish comics on which this juvenile but exhilarating action thriller is (very) loosely based may bemoan the omission of the supercriminal angle and colourful characters like Shithead and Fuckwit. Still, there are enough cheeky borrowings from The Matrix to fill the void.

Director Timur Bekmambetov also ransacks his own résumé, employing the same brand of hyperkinetic mayhem that blazed through Night/Day Watch: slo-mo bloodletting, jacked-up imagery, ear-spanking soundtrack… Men bound between buildings and cars flip like tiddlywinks, all with complete contempt for the laws of physics.

The credit for making such morally dubious, ultraviolent nonsense so eminently entertaining goes to Jolie and McAvoy, who keeps a straight face through the head-busting carnage and exploding-rat finale. Relentlessly paced, the film barrels by like the express train Jolie bodysurfs, pleasing to the eye but never bothering the brain.They're already talking about a sequel…

In the meantime, keep yourself busy with the mildly tortuous extras set-up. Scan the actual disc and all you'll find are two featurettes. Want more? Then head to and tap in a code to access other odds and sods, including a personal training workout. "Ordinary"? "Pathetic"? Not for much longer, McAvoy.

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