The Great Wall movie poster
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The Great Wall
The Great Wall movie poster

The Great Wall Movie Review

If you want to watch a millionaire embarrass himself, journey to The Great Wall to watch Matt Damon turn in the worst performance of his career in one of the dumbest movies of his career. Better yet, don’t make the journey at all.

From the director of the visually amazing but otherwise so-so Chinese action films Hero and House of Flying Daggers, The Great Wall is a visually and tonally inconsistent movie with terrible writing, an idiotic story, choppy editing and a ridiculous climax that for some reason has nothing to do with the Great Wall whatsoever. One has to wonder if Matt Damon agreed to star in this film with the assumption it would never reach American shores, for he sports an embarrassingly odd sort-of-Irish accent for parts of the film and otherwise shows little enthusiasm for the subject matter, presumably aware of just how fucking stupid it all is.

The Great Wall is not a historical drama but a wannabe action epic that features Chinese soldiers and for some reason three white dudes (the others being Willem Dafoe and that dude everyone liked in Game of Thrones until his head was squashed by the Mountain) fighting a horde of generic CGI dog-lizard-monsters who can only be killed when shot in their oddly placed eyeballs. You see, The Great Wall was built to keep the rest of the world safe from these relentless creatures, nevermind the fact that they could just head east instead of west or do what they ultimately end up doing (minor spoiler): digging a tunnel under the wall, just like the Mexican drug cartels can and will do with Trump’s Great Wall.

It's all silly and everyone knows it, but at least the movie boasts a couple reasonably staged and entertaining--if not utterly predictable and one-note--action sequences to make things mildly watchable for a while. But in between those action scenes, the movie is a chore thanks to bland characters and painfully cheesy dialogue that is undeniably worse than anyone involved the project intended.

After a while (or perhaps in pre-production), it appears everyone just gives up. The action gets worse, the plotting gets ridiculous, director Yimou Zhang completely abandons the Great Wall concept entirely and it appears that an intern was allowed to chop away freely in the editing room to remove all extraneous material (had this same intern been allowed access to the entire cut, the Great Wall would have made a marvelous short film).

The Great Wall is not without its moments, but it's an absurdly stupid and poorly made movie that is an embarrassment to all involved, especially Damon who clearly signed up for the paycheck and the opportunity to awkwardly flirt with co-star Tian Jing.

Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.

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