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7 Movies like Wanted: Action with a Touch of Humor

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Gale Villaseñor itcherMovies like ‘Wanted’ both tickle the funny bone and get the blood pumping. If you’re out for a good laugh in the middle of an adrenaline overdrive, check out ‘Mr. and Mrs. Smith’, ‘RED’ and ‘Spy’.
~ Gale Villaseñor

Say Goodbye to Your Old, Boring Life

“Insanity is wasting your life as a nothing when you have the blood of a killer flowing in your veins. Insanity is being shit on, beat down, coasting through life in a miserable existence when you have a caged lion locked inside and a key to release it…” – ‘Wanted’ (Timur Bekmambetov, 2008)

Initially, there is nothing funny about the premise of ‘Wanted.’ Wesley Gibson (James McAvoy) lives a fairly ordinary life as an office clerk, though barely managing stress in his work and personal affairs. One expects him to drop dead of a severe anxiety attack, at some point.

But then his estranged father dies, causing Wesley to fall in with a secret group called the Fraternity, and the rest of the movie is a non-stop roller coaster ride. Wesley says goodbye to his old boring life and goes through an awkward adjustment phase on his way to taking his father’s place as one of the best assassins alive.

Light-hearted action movies like ‘Wanted’ have a comic book appeal in how they highlight the ridiculous (incidentally, like ‘Wanted,’ some of them may be based on comic books, as well).

‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’ (Matthew Vaughn, 2014)

“Martini. Gin, not vodka, obviously. Stirred for 10 seconds while glancing at an unopened bottle of vermouth. Thank you…”

“Eggsy” Unwin is an antisocial, rebellious young man, who had no idea that his father used to be an international spy, working for an off-the-grid intelligence agency called “Kingsmen.” Many years after his father’s death, he is invited by the Kingsmen to try for a vacant position as an agent. Being a Kingsman is a task reserved for the best of the best, and Eggsy uses his survival skills from the mean streets of London to rise to the occasion.

This movie is slated to be the first in a series, like the graphic novel on which it is based. It relies heavily on the elements that made James Bond movies popular, and zeroes in on the exploration of the “Badass in the Nice Suit” trope. It certainly doesn’t hurt that the supporting actor, Colin Firth, who has a prominent role in the film, looks great kicking tail and taking names in a coat and tie.

Similarity Match: 95%
Both ‘Kingsman’ and ‘Wanted’ were based on comic books, and have a fairly similar balance of drama, comedy and action.

‘The Tuxedo’ (Kevin Donovan, 2002)

“That’s definitely not a rental…”

Jimmy Tong (Jackie Chan) is a cabbie whose prowess is at first restricted to fast and adept driving. But when he is hired as a chauffeur of an international spy (Jason Isaacs), he finds himself having to take the spy’s place, in order to complete a mission.

And how to take a spy’s place? By simply taking his suit, of course.

We find another Badass in a Nice Suit in Jackie Chan. But we cannot deny that the man, who has always done his own stunts, enriches the trope with his own unique style. However, prepare to be bombarded by a great deal of silliness.

Similarity Match: 90%
Like ‘Wanted,’ this is another movie about a former nobody discovering his innate talents, then morphing into a peerless killing machine.

‘Mr. and Mrs. Smith’ (Doug Liman, 2005)

“We have an unusual problem here, Jane. You obviously want me dead, and I’m less and less concerned for your well-being…”

A pair of assassins meet, fall in love, and settle down. Over time their marriage begins to sour, as they fall into familiar routines and start getting bored. With both assassins not knowing their spouse works for a rival entity, the two take on cases that place them in each other’s path, resulting in an inevitable, rollicking showdown.

The movie is a runaway hit and has since become an action-comedy classic. The two stars, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie (who also appears in ‘Wanted,’ for the record!), are now also a Hollywood institution, happily married with six children as of time of writing.

Similarity Match: 90%
This movie comes across as more emotional (funny and dramatic, in particular) than ‘Wanted.’ Understandably, married people would perhaps find more to relate to here.

‘RED’ (Robert Schwentke, 2010)

“I remember the Secret Service being tougher…”

The title is an acronym for “Retired and Extremely Dangerous” – and that’s what the characters are. Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, and Helen Mirren take center stage as highly trained operatives forced out of retirement by events beyond their control.

Action fans of all ages would no doubt find this movie fun and engaging. Morgan Freeman, also in ‘Wanted’ as a deadly, intimidating mentor figure, makes another appearance here… still as a deadly, intimidating mentor figure.

Similarity Match: 85%
Like ‘Wanted,’ ‘RED’ is based on a limited comic book series which shares its name – however, the former is more overtly geared toward younger audiences.

‘True Lies’ (James Cameron, 1994)

“What did you expect, Harry? Helen’s a flesh and blood woman and you’re never there. It was only a matter of time…”

A man who leads a double life as a boring, stable family man and a fearless secret agent discovers that his quiet, shy wife may be having an affair. He proceeds to struggle to save the nation and keep his marriage together at the same time.

‘True Lies’ has proven itself a classic among action-comedy flicks. It is also often touted as one of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s’ best performances.

Similarity Match: 85%
The protagonists of both movies lead double lives as people working boring jobs, though both are suited for high-adrenaline tasks.

‘Spy’ (Paul Feig, 2015)

“Nothing kills me. I’m immune to 179 different types of poison. I know because I ingested them all at once when I was deep undercover in an underground poison-ingesting crime ring…”

Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy) is a CIA analyst stuck behind a desk, helping the secret agent she loves (Jude Law) save the world. Things take a turn for the worse when the object of her affections ends up missing and presumed dead, and she volunteers to pick up where he left off.

Similarity Match: 80%
‘Spy’ is way more comedic than ‘Wanted,’ and the high-octane action offering is a bit limited. Still, worth a look for its unique take on unlikely action movie protagonists.


If You Like Wanted You Will Like…

One could expect fair doses of morbid humor in movies similar to ‘Wanted,’ and there’s a more than a healthy dose of that here.

‘Kill Bill’ (Quentin Tarantino, 2003)

“That woman deserves her revenge and we deserve to die…”

The two-part ‘Kill Bill’ movie series has garnered a faithful following among action aficionados. This movie, and its equally highly regarded sequel, follows the journey of the Bride (Uma Thurman) as she solves the mystery of her failed assassination, recovers her baby, and exacts revenge on those responsible for her ill fortune.

Over-the-top action movies frequently apply humor, and Tarantino is an unrivalled master of over-the-top action movies.


Action and Humor Go Hand in Hand

Sometimes, a touch of the absurd lends action movies exactly what they need to gain eternal fame. Something that makes you laugh and go “THAT IS AWESOME” at the same time is the secret ingredient that directors strive to incorporate in films like ‘Wanted’.

Do you agree that humor is what makes ‘Wanted’ such a great action flick?

What other funny action movies like ‘Wanted’ come to mind?

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