Movie Review: The Great Wall

Crouching Tiger, Flying Jason Bourne

The Great Wall (2016)

Amazon Video Rental; 3 / 5

Hey, check out pre-Mandalorian Pedro Pascal over here! With a sword! He's actually pretty cool in this movie, as is (of all people) Matt Damon. This movie caught a lot of flack when it was released. Wokedom went predictably berserk about white savior foolishness and how unnecessary it was for this movie to have anybody white in it at all, much less Matt Damon in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves cosplay. So it came and went from American theaters and that was that. 

But there's actually a lot to like here. It’s not going to ever win any awards, but the staging is superb, and Asian production houses can do some pretty sweet monster CG.  It's only tenuously tethered to any sort of reality--this is NOT gritty realism, even if Damon is pretty hairy and dirty for a lot of it.  And let's talk about Matt Damon, because there's a lot to like there, too, which frankly surprised me. Remember Kevin Costner's absurd stabs at an English accent in Robin Hood? Man, I was totally braced for that here, too, because some of Damon’s lines make it sound like he's an American biker--gruff and curt. But as you listen, it's not hard to hear that he's going more Irish. But it's a faded Irish, like he hasn't been home in a long time. I won't call it awesome, but it works in a subtle way that becomes more believable the more you hear it.   

And in fairness he's no white savior. His character is an expert archer whose presence is helpful to the Chinese troops defending the Great Wall against a monster swarm. But the movie takes clear steps to establish that he joins a team here--he does not save the day. What he does is anchor a surprisingly fun popcorn-on-Friday-night movie rental. 

3 stars of 5: I liked it, but don't need to watch it again.