“The Great Wall” (2017)
Directed by Yimou Zhang
Running Time 103 Minutes, Rated PG-13
3 Mitch’s out of 5
Matt Damon is a great director whore.
Matt Damon has an unquenchable thirst for the world’s greatest film directors. After knocking out legends; Spielberg, Scorcese, Eastwood, Van Sant, Scott, Nolan, Coen Brothers, etcetera, etcetera… Matt Damon keeps on hunting. His latest effort has him under the thumb of legendary Chinese director Yimou Zhang (“House of Flying Daggers”) in the baffling and somewhat slightly above generic “B” monster movie “The Great Wall”. I say generic, but I say it slightly above, because with all the talent in this film you’d hope for something more than slightly above but as I kept my eyes peeled the ‘eye rolls’ didn’t come and most importantly to my surprise I honestly wasn’t bored.
Matt Damon is William, an 11th Century scruffy haired mercenary thief who is trying to work his way out of Gobi desert to bring back the game-changing ‘black-powder’ and head back to Europe and become rich. From a larger group of thieves only William and Pero (Pedro Pascal), who the two have some of the best ‘worst buddy banter’ to have scratched screens in quite some time, survive an attack from unknown monster beast that we later come to know as the Tao Tie. Basically lizard creatures that appear every sixty years to look to world domination but serve the Chinese more as a life lesson not to be greedy. It’s a good thing that William is a bit of a hoarder, as the trophy arm that he removed from a Tao Tie and a black rock (their kryptonite) that nobody else wants somehow comes into play greatly with the plot (you don’t say???!!!)
The more advanced Chinese army, who are ready for the Tao Tie attack, take William and Pero in and join forces under the leadership of Lin Mae (Tian Jing) who tries to teach William a thing or two about the benefits of teamwork and trust. Basic film equation plays after; show enemy, heroes survives first enemy attack, that gives us time to have an arrow-off to showcase heroes skills, the two walks of life get to know each other, blah, blah, what’s the Chinese word for blah.
But like I said, I wasn’t bored. Zhang is known for his colorful imagery, and that is certainly the highpoint for “The Great Wall”. It certainly isn’t Matt Damon’s weird accent, which is explained by him being an orphan soldier who has served under many flags, but it’s fascinating to hear him speak and tell jokes like he was actually Chinese and trying to do an impression of what he thinks a white American joke sounds like. I was truly entertained by Damon and Pascal cracking whips with the likes of “Do you think they’ll hang us now?”, with the response of “I could use the rest”. And don’t miss Willem Dafoe in the film for practically no good reason but to hit home what greed is and to get that international Dafoe box office money (ka ching!)
Many people got in a tizzy that this film was whitewashing and that Damon would be a the white savior. He is not, the Chinese teach whitey a lesson and his character becomes a better person from taking on their ways. I don’t really recommend this film but I don’t don’t recommend this film, if that helps any. Which I know it doesn’t.