There was a lot of controversy before the release of The Great Wall. The controversy will be a complete turn off for some, but for others it simply won’t matter all that much. While that’s definitely the case, the one thing that both sides will agree on is that this could have been a much better picture. There’s a legitimate chance you’ll enter this fantasy world filled with ancient Chinese lure only to come out realizing that there was no point in even visiting in the first place.
Two westerners (Matt Damon and Pedro Pascal) help introduce viewers to a world that they themselves are experiencing for the first time. They’ve made it over to China in search of something valuable that’s simply known as “black powder,” but stumble upon something much more sinister. Once this happens, they gain the attention of a vast Chinese army and are forced to help them in looking to find out how to kill the beasts that have threatened their lives and their kingdom for such a long time.
The Great Wall is an insanely generic movie that will likely be considered mediocre at best. There’s a lot going on, but nothing that with the ability to captivate. It’s a movie that wants to feel epic due to its music and it mediocre attempts at creating large scale battles, but it never comes close since it feels more like a basic action movie with not much else to offer.
To put it bluntly, The Great Wall is nothing more than an attempt to capitalize on the huge number of people living in China. Thanks to its obvious attempt to cater to China and the choice to feature big Chinese stars like Andy Lau and Jing Tian, it will make its money, but that’s the only reason why it was made. I understand that you may want to make your money, but it would be much easier if the movies you were releasing were actually some worth the trip to the theater.
This could explain why Matt Damon gave such a mediocre performance. He’s not horrible, but he’s nowhere near his best. Looking at his last two movies before this shows you that he’s willing and able to go in either direction. While he was fantastic in The Martian, he pretty much delivered an extremely flat and lifeless Jason Bourne in the film immediately following that one.
One of the weirdest parts about his performance was the accent that he sometimes has and doesn’t have. I don’t know if he was supposed to be Irish, Scottish or American, because his accent kept changing and fading away. I’m assuming this is due to his lack of interest in the movie itself, but either way, it doesn’t look very good and doesn’t allow viewers to take what we’re seeing very seriously.
While he’s better in The Great Wall, his performance is closer to the one seen in Jason Bourne than the one seen in The Martian. This makes it seem as if we’ll still get some quality performances out of him when he has something to gain artistically. When he doesn’t? I guess we’ll keep getting what we’ve had to endure while Jason Bourne and The Great Wall. In those two instances, he didn’t look interested in anything other than a paycheck.
With all that said, I can’t say I blame Universal for making The Great Wall or blame Matt Damon for getting involved. There’s a ton of money to be made over in China, so capitalizing on their voluminous population is understandable. I do wish they would have made a better movie that was more enjoyable though. I know the controversy would still be a distraction for some people over here in America if that were the case, but we have to remember that the new Hollywood isn’t necessarily catering to us anymore.
Director: Zhang Yimou
Film Length: 103 minutes
Release Date: February 17, 2017
Distributor: Universal Pictures
- Score - 4/104/10