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Movie Review: 'The Great Wall' Not So Great

by Todd A. Smith


(Photo Credit: Universal Pictures)


Watchable, But Far From Great


Matt Damon has earned the benefit of the doubt.

For 20 years, he has blessed moviegoers with outstanding performances in classic films like “Good Will Hunting,” “Ocean’s 11” and its sequels and the “Jason Bourne” film franchise.

Someone with such an impressive track record deserves a mulligan, and “The Great Wall” should count as Damon’s movie mulligan.  


Hopefully, his performances in the upcoming films “Downsizing” and “Suburbicon” will make up for falling off the wall in “The Great Wall.”

In all honesty, “The Great Wall” does not suffer from subpar performances by Damon and co-stars Pedro Pascal (“Narcos”), Willem Dafoe or Tian Jiang.

The film suffers from a concept that is not amazing enough for an adventure/fantasy film.

The storyline in “The Great Wall” just lacks enough pep to make it enjoyable.  However, it is a watchable movie.

In “The Great Wall,” William (Damon) and Tovar (Pascal) have traveled to China in search for black powder.

Legend has it that black powder is the most dangerous weapon a soldier can have.

The possession of black powder would make an army invincible against any foe, man or beast.

Unfortunately for William and Tovar, China is filled with soldiers of their own and they must fight against multiple foes in their search for black powder.

When two warring factions corner them, they are taken into captivity by a group of warriors known as the Nameless Order led by Commander Lin Mae (Jing).

Before they are imprisoned for life or executed by the Nameless Order, it is discovered that William has slain one of the deadly monsters that is threatening the existence of the Nameless Order.

The Great Wall of China, according to legend, was created to protect them against any attacks by monster or man.

Nameless Order usually knows when the monsters will attack, but the monsters and their queen have learned to outsmart the Nameless Order, and the Chinese soldiers must rely on the expertise of William and Tovar to defend themselves once and for all against their deadly nemesis.

Obviously, Damon and Dafoe are two of the best actors of the last two generations, but great acting cannot overcome a not so great, childlike storyline of monsters and fantasy.

Like Superman has his kryptonite, the monsters also have their kryptonite.  But their kryptonite is not even creatively thought out.

It is like filmmakers knew that every villain needs something to destroy it, so they just used the first thing that came to their minds.

The most fascinating aspect of “The Great Wall” is the fact that producers could not actually shoot the film on the Great Wall of China, so the producers had to erect their own wall for filming.

But “The Great Wall” is not creative enough to deserve more than one viewing.

The film has its requisite good guys, bad guys; plot twists, betrayals and reconciliations.

However, that is not enough to save the film from being formulaic and unadventurous.

Nevertheless, Damon has earned the right for at least one slip up in his illustrious career.

Most assuredly, he will be able to fall and still get back up later in 2017.






This article was published on Friday 17 February, 2017.
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