Starring global superstar Matt Damon and directed by one of the most breathtaking visual stylists of our time, Zhang Yimou (Hero, House of Flying Daggers), Legendary’s The Great Wall tells the story of an elite force making a valiant stand for humanity on the world’s most iconic structure. The first English-language production for Yimou is the largest film ever shot entirely in China. The Great Wall also stars Jing Tian, Pedro Pascal, Willem Dafoe and Andy Lau.
The Great Wall has long been talked up as a landmark of sorts: It’s Matt Damon’s first foray into China, Zhang Yimou’s first predominantly English-language production and the first film to come out of Legendary Pictures’ continent-hopping strategy. The result, however, has turned out to be much less exciting than all the hype might have suggested. Zhang and his Hollywood screenwriters have delivered nothing more than a formulaic monster movie — albeit one transposed to a historically undefined China where generals dressed like Terracotta warriors already have mastered anesthetics, air travel and American-accented English.
Still, Damon has certainly lent the whole enterprise a certain pedigree, and his presence (alongside Willem Dafoe and Chinese A-listers Andy Lau and Zhang Hanyu) should propel the film to box-office success in China (It has already taken over $170M in China). For the international market, however, the film perhaps would best be positioned as a novelty for monster-flick fanboys or those interested in Zhang’s brand of cultural exotica.
Despite the overestimated visual effects, Damon and the rest of the cast manage to save the film with their performance, and with Damon’s name on this it could be a massive pay-off.
Worth Seeing?: Maybe –