What is it with white A-listers hijacking films about revered Japanese or Chinese warriors engaged in epic battles to save their way of life?
First, Tom Cruise (playing a drunk Army Captain who ruthlessly slaughters indigenous people in his spare time) decided it was his duty to hop a charter to Japan to learn the way of the samurai in four easy lessons, then lead the very samurai who trained him to defeat ninjas and gun-toting soldiers in The Last Samurai.
Next, Keanu Reeves saddled himself with the selfless responsibility of leading 47 disgraced ronin warriors against ghosts, witches and really shitty 3-D animation in 47 Ronin.
Now, with The Great Wall, Matt Damon has thrown his hat in the ring as a lily white dude with a fake beard and destined to lead tens of thousands of Chinese warriors in a battle against giant, man-eating salamanders (called Tao Tei) at the foot of, you guessed it, the Great Wall of China.
Eat that shit, Tom Cruise.
Let’s not mince words here. This movie is a burning train wreck from the first time you hear Matt Damon utter some useless piece of dialogue in an accent and tone that is a mix between Liam Neeson having a stroke and Jeff Bridges having an even bigger stroke while eating oatmeal. I’m not sure why an accent was even necessary, as they never revealed where Damon’s character was from, but it was a choice and execution that should earn the actor an unimpeded path to a “Worst Actor” Razzie.
As for the Tao Tei, don’t expect to get much of a back story about why these monsters exist or why they keep attacking the Great Wall. I think there was a 30-second back story about the Tao Tei recited somewhere between Damon’s incoherent mumbling, but I’m pretty sure I was daydreaming about Phoebe Cates’ pool scene in Fast Times at Ridgemont High at that point. All you really need to know is that there are a helluva a lot of Tao Tei out there, they have eyes in their shoulders (yep, I said “shoulders”), and they hate magnets (yep, I said “magnets”). What strain of hashish were these screenwriters smoking, and does Costco sell it by the pallet?
As horrendous as it is, The Great Wall isn’t the worst thing to hit the big screen in 2017 (you’re safe for now, Underworld: Blood Wars). But only by a hair. Sure, there are a few stupidly fun action sequences and the visuals can be impressive at times, but there is zero story to be found and the writing and acting were so bad that I fear it all made me sterile. Not sure how, but it’s just a feeling.
And did I mention that magnets can defeat the monsters? Oh yeah, I did. Just had to be sure that was clear.
Maybe this steaming pile of Tao Tei shit will teach Hollywood the valuable lesson that China, Korea, and Japan can make their own amazing action films just fine without the help of whitey. I’m not holding my breath, though.