Suspension of disbelief is crucial in movies. You can’t walk into an action movie thinking one-against-twenty equals impossible odds. One-against-twenty is even. Take Angelina Jolie in her new movie, Salt. Judging by her appearance, she couldn’t beat a drum. And yet, here she is: pounding Secret Service agents into jelly. This, despite the fact she could wear a wedding ring round her wrist. Despite the fact her coat has more muscles than she does. In Salt, she’s made of bricks. It’s up to the audience to decide if this is okay. “Plausible” doesn’t come into it. After all, you’re not invited to believe in her actions; you’re invited to enjoy watching them.
For a movie that features fright-wigs, war elephants, monkeys and man-love, Alexander is surprisingly dull. Everything that could go wrong with it has gone wrong, and yet – it only fitfully reaches maximum hysteria. It may be something to do with Colin Farrell still sort-of believing he was in a credible star vehicle, or maybe because Oliver Stone can’t quite bring himself to launch Alexander into the stratosphere of camp. And it’s a shame, because Alexander could be a really good bad movie. Every scene is poised for kitsch. Is it schadenfreude to wish disaster on a movie? Or would relishing disaster have made Alexander great?
A friend of mine used to have a game he called “Who can take the hardest punch?”. I never played. But something of that game’s mixture of violence, posturing and borderline personality disorder came back to me as I watched Wanted. This is a movie made for boys: full of guns, knives, fast cars and explosive women. People get punched in this movie so hard and so regularly that you might fear for their looks, if they weren’t part of a fantasy universe. Blood doesn’t signal a wound in Wanted, it’s more like lipstick. The hero doesn’t have sex; he has the crap kicked out of him.