By Jay Hunter – One wonders what must be going through Matt Damon’s mind right now. Whilst the rest of Hollywood is in a frenzy for the rapturous Manchester by the Sea – a movie which he was at one time attached to direct – he is doing the rounds for the most expensive Chinese movie of all time. A movie that tanked with all the grace of an multi-million dollar oil spill when it was released in China last year.
Much was made about the casting of Matt Damon – a global actor to put it delicately – in a movie based upon an ancient Chinese legend. Whilst there’s a perfectly valid excuse for the inclusion of the caucasian man in the narrative, there’s no dodging his use in the film. A westerner saving the east – with the help of a macuffin so ridiculous it would make Wanted‘s Loom of Fate snigger. 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 against a horde of blandly designed monsters.
For a Yimou Zhang film featuring a flamboyant trapeze army, Matt Damon and Willem Dafoe battling ancient monsters, The Great Wall is neither as exciting nor as entertainingly bonkers as one might hope. In saying that, there’s an admirable campness to the whole affair. The dynamic between Matt Damon and Pedro Pascal (Game of Thrones) is reminiscent to that of Kevin Costner and Morgan Freeman’s relationship in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. It’s reminders such as this that makes the movie feel like an extremely dated – albeit fun – action romp, despite ear scrapping exposition dialogue the over the top action set pieces are often too ridiculous not to at least crack a smile.