After working as a producer on the critically acclaimed drama ‘Manchester By The Sea’ it would seem that Matt Damon is keeping his work schedule varied. His latest film project, ‘The Great Wall’, sees him in front of the camera once more whilst he battles a hoard of vicious monsters in medieval China. Amongst claims of whitewashing from many in the film world, could Damon replicate the success of some of his other more recent blockbuster flicks?
In terms of those whitewashing accusations, I don’t think there is much weight behind them. Damon plays a European mercenary in the film, this character therefore warrants a casting choice like Damon. However his performance is just average here. I thought that he excelled more so with the action sequences than the dramatic ones. I wasn’t quite sure what accent he was going for either, at times it was a little off putting. Therefore as Damon doesn’t add all that much to the picture I could see just enough reason for changing the nationality of his character and making ‘The Great Wall’ a foreign film. The rest of the cast don’t perform badly either but their characters and acting is largely forgettable. Willem Dafoe stars here in a throwaway role which really could have been played by anyone but other than him western audiences won’t recognise anyone else. The Asian cast are fine, but never really get a chance to shine. Only Jing Tian gets share of the spotlight alongside Damon. Set to star in ‘Kong: Skull Island’ and ‘Pacific Rim: Uprising’, I’m intrigued to see more of her ability there.
The narrative for the film actually has a really cool concept. The idea that the Great Wall of China was built to keep something out is a fun one. Even when the story develops and we learn more about the nature of the threat it holds up. However, it’s a shame that the drama inbetween the big action sequences fails to make the most of this fascinating concept. On the other hand the action is always entertaining, saving the film from it’s more dull character development and what not. I loved how they showed the sheer scale of the wall, certainly adjusting the idea I had in my head of what size it was. Whilst this action was most definitely watchable and I was already sold on the concept something just didn’t quite gel together. I think the issue may have been the visuals. The film is full of garish colours. The purples and blues of the armies armour, the oranges and greys of the surrounding landscape and the green of the monsters splattered blood. Although some of these colours worked in isolation when combined together it prevented the film from obtaining the essential authenticity that it needed. The CGI wasn’t always up to scratch either, this was especially the case for the surrounding areas of the wall. I’m not completely certain but I think these problems were a factor in stopping the film from feeling more connected.
As the film unfolded I couldn’t help but feel like I was watching an average live-action remake of a beloved TV show or animation. The film wouldn’t have been any better or worse with or without Matt Damon and the rest of the cast won’t live long in audiences memories. Thankfully the action is consistently satisfying and the films fun concept helps make up for its other flaws. However, this concept alone isn’t enough to make the film a fully fledged success. The visuals are lacking and when all of this is drawn together it does feel like a missed opportunity.
Rating – 6/10
Question: What is your favourite Matt Damon movie?
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