Why, Matt, why? The Great Wall has not had much publicity here in the UK, which for what must be an expensive film is suspicious, but I arrived late to the Odeon to see Fences and went into this film instead. Love Matt Damon, am down with historical action, had no expectations, so what could go wrong? The Great Wall now joins the very short list of movies I’ve walked out of – this time as it just wasn’t worth rushing to the last train to stay through the end of a nonsense tale.
Is it fair to criticize an cinematic effort I didn’t fully experience? Maybe no, so I’ll give you the component parts and you tell me they don’t add up to awful: Damon doing an on-and-off accent I clocked to be… Irish? a preponderance of extreme closeups and camera-whips, clunky expository dialogue for the first fifteen minutes, CGI done by an overly ambitious highschool AV club working off of 2008 software, cultural sensitivity that seemed to create insensitivity no matter what culture you come from, ridiculously over the top art design, dodgy logistics, a convenient English-speaking war veteran Commander character, all of twenty-three, gorgeous and female (no way she hooks up with Damon, right?) and the coup de gras for 60 percent of the films in which he appears, a strung out Willem Dafoe.
The Great Wall: The Most Offensive Fake Wall This Year
The plot revolves around Damon and his soon-to-be-killed crew who are Western journeymen searching for “black powder”, which the way-ahead-of-everyone Chinese had since the mid 900s. What Damon and his admittedly charming sidekick (played by Game of Thrones actor Pedro Pascal, who looks like the baby Clark Gable and Marlon Brando never had) didn’t count on fighting was… err, were they aliens? Let’s call them unstoppable impossible megalizards that according to the Commander, attack every sixty years or so, but seem to be a bit ahead of schedule this time around. Not that any of this makes sense, and really, a plot simply involving Damon and Mr. Oberyn Martell stealing the gunpowder would have sufficed, but instead there is an initial massive attack on The Wall by these so-faux Komodo dragonesque cartoons that definitely numbered over one hundred thousand; little fuzzy green blips charging and climbing (Like with a carabiner?!) in the background (turn that CGI machine up to 11, kids!) that each required at least seven Chinese warriors, or one occasionally wise-cracking Hollywood team, each, to kill. The entire population of this battalion would have been wiped out but, logic be damned, everyone not top billed is seen dying in the background and then is seen in the next minutes cheerfully having a meal. It just… ugh, I can’t even.
Defending The Wall but Keeping it Tight
I should note that the Chinese troops were assisted by buff, oiled grunt mechanics, shirtless and leathered up, shown deep in the bowels of The Wall, pushing giant Rube Goldbergian levers to initiate the rise of ridiculous defense machinery. Whoever edited this thing chose to cut to these below decks sweaty hero shots a lot more than the plot seemed to call for, but even that West Hollywood eye candy wasn’t enough to keep me in my seat. Sorry, I had to get home. I did chuckle that I went in for Denzel and some emotional fences and came out with the trying-hard Matt and a big pile of fake wall.
Skip this, and we will all wait for Damon’s 2020 late-night interviews where he eventually spills the beans on why, why, why…
A former ABC National, Dallas and Atlanta radio personality, Martina O'Boyle is now making movies and covering culture in London, Dublin, and as far in Europe as the cheapie flights will take her, for Pop Culture Beast.