I had high hopes for Matt Damon’s fantasy adventure film The Great Wall because I enjoy this particular genre of films. I enjoy watching these films, and the Chinese have made some beautifully epic martial arts fantasy films in the past. Unfortunately, The Great Wall was a big disappointment.
The movie was visually stunning, and I loved the epic scope of it and all of the costume, setting, and creature designs. All of that stuff complimented many of the film’s awesome action sequences. So yes, the movie was incredibly fun to look at, but unfortunately, it was just a hollow story with an amusingly bad script.
This film was jumping all over the place, there was no flow, and the story was just littered with holes. It was a big mess! I’m sure there was a good story in there somewhere, but it seemed like there were huge sections of the story removed and the audience was left wondering what in the hell was going on with certain characters and other elements of the story. I should also probably mention that the dialogue was terrible.
The movie probably would have been a lot better had Matt Damon or Willem Dafoe not been part of it. Their characters were so awkwardly developed, especially Damon’s. There were moments in the film when I was laughing because his acting and the dialogue he delivered was just so bad. He had this weird accent in the film that I couldn’t quite figure out, but it sounded like an Irish-American accent that you’d hear in the movie Gangs of New York.
Having actors like Damon and Dafoe in the film were incredibly distracting. I know the reason they were cast in the film was so that the movie would have an international appeal, but it just seemed to make the movie worse. I think the movie would have been slightly better had they not cast any popular American actors in the movie.
This is one of those rare moments where I felt embarrassed for the actors. They were just thrown into a film they didn’t fit into. I don’t know how else to explain it. If you want to see Damon give one of the worst and most embarrassing performances of his career, then this is the movie for you. I got a laugh out of it, some may you will as well.
Regardless of all that, I’ll come back around to the positive aspects of the movie, which is that it was beautiful to look at and there were some pretty awesome action sequences, so I'll give director Yimou Zhang that. It’s not enough for me to want to recommend it to anyone, though. Save your money.