Missed opportunities in ‘Wanted’ and ‘Phenomenon’

Sometimes, I am disappointed by NOT seeing reel librarians, especially in movies that include libraries.

I come across reel librarians unexpectedly all the time — see my recent posts about My Week with Marilyn and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. But sometimes, I am disappointed by NOT seeing reel librarians, especially in movies that include libraries. I was recently disappointed twice in as many days by the movies Wanted (2008) and Phenomenon (1996).


Wanted (2008):


I had been wanting (hee hee) to see the movie Wanted (2008) for quite some time, as I had heard it was a solid genre flick. And I like a good genre film, one that owns its genre and just goes for it (see Salt or Taken or The Bourne trilogy). James McAvoy stars as Wesley, a regular guy who finds out one day he shares his (dead?) father’s super-human assassin skills. But in addition to being disappointed by no librarian in the movie, I was also disappointed by the movie itself. It could have been so cool (with talent like Angelina Jolie, James McAvoy, and Morgan Freeman, how do you mess that up?!), but turned out to be quite silly and over-the-top with countless, pointless slo-mo scenes.

With an early scene set in a warehouse library, my interest was piqued, and I kept hoping for a reel librarian. There are several more scenes set in the library, including the final showdown fight. But nope, no librarian. No spoilers here — except for the fact that there’s no librarian, of course — but this film also demonstrates how research isn’t actually research if you go into it looking for sources just to back up what you already think! Rookie mistake. 😉


Phenomenon (1996):


And I had also never seen the John Travolta flick Phenomenon (1996). Remember when Travolta had that late-career resurgence in the mid-’90s? Good times. Personally, I thought Phenomenon was ok, but it went on for too long. It’s about this small-town guy, George Malley (Travolta), who becomes super-smart after seeing a light in the sky one night. (Put that way, the plot kind of resembles the Wanted plot, right? Superficially, of course, but hmmm, interesting.)

Anyways, because George starts reading multiple books a day, the library is mentioned several times throughout the movie. They even hold a library book fair showcasing all the library books he’s read in the past 2 months! George takes a long time getting ready for that book fair. Alas, no librarian. Which felt really odd to me. Wouldn’t a scene showing a librarian’s shock at George checking out all those books have been funny? It would have been interesting to juxtapose George’s all-of-a-sudden smartness with a librarian’s all-around intelligence. Missed opportunity, IMHO.


Sources used:


  • Phenomenon. Dir. Jon Turteltaub. Perf. John Travolta, Robert Duvall, Kyra Sedgwick, Forest Whitaker. Touchstone Pictures, 1996.
  • Wanted. Dir. Timur Bekmambetov. Perf. James McAvoy, Angelina Jolie, Morgan Freeman, Terence Stamp, Common. Universal, 2008.

Author: Jennifer

Librarian, blogger, movie lover

2 thoughts on “Missed opportunities in ‘Wanted’ and ‘Phenomenon’”

  1. “this film also demonstrates how research isn’t actually research if you go into it looking for sources just to back up what you already think!”

    Always teaching! And thank you for that. 🙂

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