The Great Wall is the newest film by visionary director Zhang Yimou and has Matt Damon facing off against creatures of legend atop the Great Wall of China.
So, is it any good?In the past Zhang Yimou has made great films like Hero and House of Flying Daggers. The usual masterful direction and stunning visuals, sadly, seem to be lacking here. The direction is capable but there isn’t any flair or real style to it. The use of colour is eye-catching yet it doesn’t add nearly as much to the story like in Hero. It all looks good and draws you in, but something is noticeably missing.It’s a good thing that the visuals in the film are engaging because sadly the characters are not. Matt Damon’s William and Pedro Pascal’s Tovar should be fun, swashbuckling rogues to follow around, and while there are moments of levity between them, they are few and far between.
Jing Tian had great potential as Commander Lin but her backstory is unexplored and glossed over in a few lines of dialogue. We learn that she is a commander and that’s about it. A subplot with Willem Dafoe could’ve been cut from the film without effecting the overall story whatsoever.
The strongest point of the film is, sadly, the first act. It was fun, exciting and the first battle sequence got you into the action immediately. Unfortunately it peaks far too early and is in a steady decline afterwards. The third act feels choppy and rushed, with sharp declines in the quality of editing. The ending is unsatisfying, with parts seemingly removed to reduce the runtime and with it, any emotional weight.
The Great Wall has some good parts, but they don’t add up enough to outweigh the bad. It isn’t a terrible movie, and I’m sure some people will enjoy it, but The Great Wall just isn’t all that great.