Did you guys know that the reason the Great Wall of China was built to keep these lizard creatures away? Well, did you ever think Matt Damon with his man bun will hopefully save the day with his bow and arrow? Not what I was expecting either. That’s The Great Wall for y’all.
When a mercenary warrior (Matt Damon) is imprisoned within the Great Wall, he discovers the mystery behind one of the greatest wonders of the world. As wave after wave of marauding beasts besiege the massive structure, his quest for fortune turns into a journey toward heroism as he joins a huge army of elite warriors to confront the unimaginable and seemingly unstoppable force.
Zhang Yimou is a well-known Chinese director as he directed some of the most visually stunning films ever like House of Flying Daggers and Hero. So hearing that he’s directing a film about the Great Wall of China sounded interesting. This film is noted as being the most expensive Chinese film ever produced as it has a budget of $150 million. None of the trailers were remotely satisfying as it looked pretty dumb. And by the end of it, having it involve monsters isn’t the brightest idea as The Great Wall wasn’t anything spectacular. As fictional as it seems, it still fails.
Yes, this is, of course, a fictional story. Even so, it still sounds ridiculous. It didn’t keep me invested throughout as it did try to pull something for about the first half hour, but it just becomes cheesy and boring. Anytime with a story like this is taken place hundreds of years ago, it gives exposition to forget about right after. The script is really painful especially with the dialogue these characters say.
The only actors I know that are in this are Damon, Pedro Pascal (Prince Oberyn from Game of Thrones), and Willem Dafoe as they are recognizable stars that I know and the rest are Chinese that are unfamiliar. There has been some controversy surrounding the film about having Damon, a white American actor, as the main character fighting alongside with Chinese actors and that could’ve lead into him being labeled as a white savior. The Great Wall isn’t much so whitewashing as his character wasn’t intended to be Chinese actor as the director said. He was supposed to be European mercenary. That being said, I’m a huge fan of Damon, but to me, he was entirely miscast for this role because he was just a boring protagonist to follow. Still wondering why a huge actor like him wanted to be a part of a film like this. Sidenote: The accent he’s gives in this is questionable.
Another problem that’s to be said about the film is that I didn’t give a lick about any of the characters especially Damon. For a story like this, it doesn’t give a focus on who to care about as everybody is underdeveloped. This never gives a chance to build upon anybody and doesn’t give any depth.
Nothing in this was really on a high spectacle. Sure, some of the action sequences may look astonishing and it has a nice look to it, but it doesn’t make it any more exciting. Even the visual effects looked really cheap for the creatures as it’s clearly CGI. Yimou’s directing also looked cheap as well. From the way it’s shot sometimes, it looked it a high-budget straight-to-DVD movie that got the US release instead.
By the end of it, there wasn’t any fun to be found in The Great Wall. It tried to be an interesting story with a premise like this, but it doesn’t live up to those low expectations as this is a misfire on all corners of the wall itself. This is this year’s 47 Ronin is basically what this is.
The Great Wall may have a visionary director and mainstream star on its hands, but it’s not enough for this monster film to overcome anything interesting.