There’s this thing called ‘intuition’, you know, the ability to understand something immediately, without the need for conscious reasoning? Yeah, so my ‘intuition’ was giving me a grave feeling of disappointment the moment I saw the poster for this film. I’m hearing of a movie being made called “The Great Wall” and it’s shot entirely in China. All of these are good things. I see a trailer showing all Asian actors. This is also a good thing. Then I see a white guy with a flowing mane shooting a bow and arrow and I can do nothing but facepalm.
Hollywood has a very serious problem of doing this. It seems like white actors can be anything under the sun and the studios and investors are completely fine with it. But heaven forbid, you cast a black “Annie”(the revamped movie), a black “Rue” (from the Hunger Games which is based on a book that’s completely fictional), or a black Storm Trooper (Star Wars) and everyone all of a sudden has a problem.
In “The Great Wall”, William (Matt Damon) and Tovar (Pedro Pascal) are traveling mercenaries from Western Europe. They head eastward towards China in hopes of “trading” (colonialism anyone?) with locals and perhaps coming across the legendary black powder. Stories say that black powder can be used as a powerful weapon and whoever controls it may control the world.
While fleeing a band of thieves in their pursuit, the duo was abruptly stopped by the “Nameless Order” (the name of the Chinese Military) who were guarding the Great Wall. William and Tovar explain to the Nameless Order that during their travel they killed a creature that took their friends. William kept an arm from the creature and showed it to them. They gasp in shock as they discover that William (the all-knowing, forever omnipotent white European) killed one of these monsters on his own (While they have an army of hundreds of thousands of soldiers). I mean seriously, if you aren’t laughing at this point I don’t know what to tell you.
The term I defined broadly in the introduction peered its nasty head yet again, as I was getting the feeling there weren’t enough white people to make this a movie. Before my eyes could get used to seeing Matt Damon in that wig, with those flowy golden locks, my visual senses were thrown into overdrive when I saw the scrappy, sinister presence of Willem Dafoe. Ballard (Willem Dafoe) was taken as their prisoner inside the wall for attempting to steal black powder. Not only did the Chinese have the sacred material, they had it in copious amounts.
So we have a total of three Europeans, all trained to kill but traveling under the guise of ‘traders’, tip-toe into Asia (several days ride on horseback), looking to steal a black material, all three believe the Chinese don’t “truly know what they have” by hiding this black material and look to take it for themselves for power. Give. Me. A. Break.
The worst part about this movie is that there isn’t even enough action to take your mind away from the following: “Tovar… Wait, is that Oberyn from Game of Thrones?” “Random, that’s Willem Dafoe.” “Matt Damon doesn’t look natural in that wig.” “How can Damon outshoot all of those Chinese soldiers? If he can outshoot them, how did they get captured?”
Tian Jing, Andy Lau, Hanyu Zhang, Lu Han, and the rest of the great Asian actors in this Asian film directed by an Asian man that’s set in Asia, will sadly ‘sink with the ship’ with the inability to abandon. The only thing great about “The Great Wall” is the soundtrack. You can thank the other Game of Thrones appearance, (via sound only) Ramin Djawadi.
Matt Damon my friends… Is the Spalding gray of crap. It’s as if the man lost a bet and was forced to play this role. If you have children they won’t know any better, they might enjoy the action surrounding the monsters and the light comedy Obery… Err, Tovar provides. But for everyone else, there’s no wall from here to heavens gate that can protect this film from impending doom. 3 out of 10. The tagline of this movie reads “1700 years to build. 5500 miles long. What were they trying to keep out?” Western Europeans from the discovery of gunpowder.