Welcome to Assassin Mode
This is a trait shared by all in the Fraternity. It enables them to see things more clearly than a normal person. With the world at a snail’s pace, the assassin has more time in which to think, decide and act. While in the mode, the fighter can discern what is happening at any given moment with a jewel cutter’s precision—thus making life-altering decisions with ease and clarity.
The Assassin Mode was a complex notion to try to achieve visually, and Bekmambetov wanted it to work within the Wanted bounds he had established: that every effect needed to have an emotional basis. Ergo, if Wesley was to be in Assassin Mode, the director wanted the audience to be in Assassin Mode as well, not merely looking at it as an observer. And although all Fraternity members have the ability to go into the mode, the audience would only see it from Wes’ point of view.
McAvoy explains, “Within the mythology of the film, the senses of the assassins in the Fraternity become heightened as their hearts pump in excess of 400 beats-per-minute. They’re not supermen and they don’t have superpowers, but they see things faster and clearer—but making a decision that quickly, compared to everyone else around them, might be seen as something superhuman.”
Bekmambetov likes to push his boundaries—so how about defying the laws of physics? Why not? So he and DP Mitchell Amundsen fashioned a shot specific to the Fraternity that enabled them to bend bullets (again, to be augmented with visual effects).
McAvoy explains the concept behind the technique: “The Fraternity members can bend bullets because they have non-rifled chambers and barrels in their guns—non-rifled means there’s no interior grooving which causes the bullet to spiral as its fired. So, in our theory, that means that if I swing my wrist like I’m taking a tennis shot, the bullet arrives at your target but in a curved trajectory—not a straight shot. You can bend around objects. Instead of moving to get a target in sight, you just move your arm.”
McAvoy and Bekmambetov spent a lot of time developing the actual on screen physical technique that would “bend bullets.” Their goal was to create an action that looked “cool, but functional…seamless, rather than apparent.” Several crew (from both Team Amundsen and Team Farhat) were also involved in quite a bit of research to create a move that—in both camera effects and visual effects—would look completely possible and completely within the grasp of reality. (Of course, don’t ask a science professor or physics expert about the plausibility of this…)
Jolie comments, “I’m probably the only person that found the bending of bullets the most difficult thing to do in the movie. It’s a little odd to try and talk about it seriously, but when Morgan Freeman’s character is explaining how it works, and because it’s Morgan saying it, you actually start to believe it.”
Ultimately (and fully) dispelling the myth, McAvoy adds, “Oh, come on…It’s all made up, I’m afraid. Kids, don’t try this at home!”