Writer: Carlo Bernard, Doug Miro, Tony Gilroy (Screenplay) Max Brooks, Edward Zwick, Marshall Herskovitz (Story)
Starring: Matt Damon, Tian Jing, Willem Dafoe, Andy Lau, Pedro Pascal, Hanyu Zhang
Plot: European mercenaries searching for black powder become embroiled in the defense of the Great Wall of China against a horde of monstrous creatures.
There may be spoilers the rest of the review
Verdict: Big Bad, Forgettable
Story: The Great Wall starts with a Great Wall history lesson as we learn the wall was constructed to keep enemies out some known others are legend, this is one of the legends. We meet the European mercenaries William (Damon), Tovar (Pascal) and their men on the run. Finding themselves under attack William and Tovar find an enemy unlike anything they have seen before but that is the least of their worries as they are still being hunted down but find themselves at the mercy of the Chinese.
Captured by the Chinese, Commander Lin Mae (Jing), General Shao (Zhang) and Strategist Wang (Lau) must decide what to do with the men and if their story is true. William and Tovar find themselves trapped in the middle of a battle between the Chinese and their defensive wall and blood thirsty creatures, a war their never asked for but a battle they were always ready to fight in.
Thoughts on The Great Wall
Characters/Performance – William is one of the Europeans who finds himself using all his combat skills to help the Chinese fight the creatures that terrorise their people and if they can get through the world. This battle gives William a chance at redemption for the wrongs he has committed in life. Tovar is his partner who wants to continue the darker path but his loyalty to William keeps him stuck between the lines. Commander Lin is the strong leading women, she is willing to sacrifice herself to protect her people and he combat skills excel. Ballard is the once captured man who has become part of the battle but against his own will. The rest of the characters are all what you would expect in the wildly over the top action fantasy adventure films.
Performance wise, Matt Damon does struggle in this role, his accent skills are terrible as he bounces between most European from scene to scene even though he holds his own in the action sequences. Pedro Pascal is fun getting most of the comic relief throughout the film. Willem Defoe is the usual odd ball supporting role with Tian Jing being the star of the show.
Story – The story does work in places, the mystery about the Great Wall will always make for an appealing story, while most of the history is known it is always interesting to see a twist on what could be a story about the history behind it all. The fantasy elements of the story is what drives this but in the end it is nothing more humans versus monsters with people needing to work together to make them win.
Action/Adventure/Fantasy – The action is big, but at times hard to follow with the adventure coming from how the humans battle to survive. The fantasy side does work but also feels like something we have seen way too often.
Settings – Having the film set mostly on the Great Wall works in my opinion because it plays into the fantasy idea of the wall being built to fight an ancient enemy.
Final Thoughts – I found this to be over the top, unoriginal but easy to watch, I don’t think this will be up for any awards just become forgettable.
Overall: This is an easy film to watch but nowhere near a classic