First, the Recap:
It is during the era of the Song Dynasty in China, and two foreign mercenaries, William (Matt Damon) and Tovar (Pedro Pascal), are already on the run for their lives thanks to their attempts to obtain the storied element, black powder. Pursued by bandits only to then barely survive an unanticipated encounter with a less than usual creature in the darkness, the two ultimately come to The Great Wall, currently the home and staging area of a legion of soldiers known as the Nameless Order. Initially treated with very heavy suspicion, disdain, and suspicion, William ultimately wins over the primary leaders of the Order, General Shao (Hanyu Zhang) and Commander Lin Mae (Tian Jing). However, William and Tovar soon learn that there are much deadlier forces the Nameless Order, and the Wall itself, are trained to hold off–Taoties, relentless, vicious monsters that swarm the wall in attempts to gain access to the lands beyond, including the capital city of Bianliang. Now, ultimately torn between his original mission and newfound loyalty to the Order, it’s up to William to decide which path, and hence which fate, he will choose.
Worth Seeing: Meh
Unfortunately, despite the directorial pedigree represented in well-respected Chinese filmmaker Yimou Zhang and solid performances by well-known Chinese actors such as Jing, Hanyu Zhang, Andy Lau, Kenny Lin, Eddie Peng, and Ryan Zheng, the film simply falls flat and becomes annoyingly mundane in so many respects. It was widely publicized that Jing had issue with Damon’s character being another example of the “white man coming to save the day”, which she didn’t respect at all, and honestly, it proves true here. The only real draw here, if any, are the stunning and often richly colorful visuals throughout, which is impressive on a big screen. But, for all the money invested, plus despite the film’s success in China, the overall narrative and clunky dialogue just crumbles and leaves the viewer, in many respects, bored in the end. Damon plods his way through, but doesn’t seem to show any real fire or intensity that we know he’s capable of. Pascal, plus Willem Dafoe, really don’t end up adding much to the picture either. The strength was in the Chinese style execution and production, and it would have been better if it had been solely them involved.
As always, this is all for your consideration and comment. Until next time, thank you for reading!