Wall not bad but not great
It had everything going for it.
A charismatic Hollywood star (Matt Damon), a talented Chinese director (Zhang Yimou) and heaps of cash (reportedly US$150 million), for a start.
Yet is far from great. Not bad, maybe. Possibly even OK. But definitely not great.
The fantasy-action flick follows the story of European mercenary William (Damon) and his sidekick Tovar (Pedro Pascal), who are on the hunt for ‘‘black powder’’ when they get captured by an army of Chinese super warriors.
Known as the Nameless Order, this army mans the Great Wall, protecting it from flesh-eating creatures called Tao Tei that, as the legend goes, pop up every 60 years.
Initially held as prisoners, William and Tovar get caught up in a Tao Tei attack and quickly prove their battle skills, earning the begrudging respect of Commander Lin Mae (Tian Jing) and General Shao (Hanyu Zhang). William, impressed by the Chinese warriors’ courage, decides to join the epic fight, while Tovar looks to another prisoner, Ballard (Willem Dafoe), to help plan his escape.
Plotwise, that’s basically it; the focus here is clearly on style over substance. The battle scenes are a visual treat, featuring colour-coded army factions and plenty of slicing and dicing action. Lin’s Crane Corps, a group of women who bungee-jump off the wall with spears to attack the Tao Tei, are particularly impressive.
But it doesn’t take long for that thrill to wear off, and what’s left is clunky dialogue and wooden acting. Damon, who tries – and fails – to pull off some sort of accent (Irish, maybe?), just doesn’t have much chemistry with Tovar or Lin, and none of the Chinese characters are given any real depth. The final result is flashy, full-on and even a bit fun at times – just don’t expect greatness. –
Matt Damon shows up in The Great Wall with an accent that varies from one line to the next.