The Great Wall review: shaky script will leave viewers baffled


Matt Damon in The Great Wall.
Matt Damon in The Great Wall.

TWENTY-four hours after seeing The Great Wall, I was still not really sure what I watched.

There is a bearded Matt Damon with an indiscernible accent attempting comedy, wooden acting across the board, blood-thirsty and dog-like mythical creatures, ancient hot air balloons, a dollop of feminism and a dash of male redemption.

So many random elements thrown together with the hopes that they will stick made for an unusual experience, though not exactly a waste.

In the 12th century, western mercenaries William (Matt Damon) and Tovar (Pedro Pascal) searching for black powder in China surrender to an army living in the Great Wall, which stretches almost 9000km, defending it from a horde of vicious green monsters and their queen who rise every 60 years.

Their kryptonite? Magnetic rocks.

While Tovar wants to escape, William, having done horrific things in his past, prefers to stay and help, his decision particularly influenced by the presence of Commander Lin (Tian Jing), leader of the Crane Troop.

The Great Wall is as silly as it sounds, but fortunately for it, and the audience, it is acutely aware of this.

There is comedy (albeit incredibly awkwardly delivered) and plenty of green monsters flying towards the screen in hysterical slow motion, teeth bared and saliva dribbling everywhere – a nod to the 3D sessions that are playing – that will give you a giggle.

It has been touted as being the largest film made in China, but the script seems like it was written by a teenage boy hopped up on too many sugary sodas and the final product suffers from such dicey editing that it looks like there was studio panic.

It is baffling that so much money would be put into such a shaky script with so many incohesive elements.

But one thing is certain – you haven’t seen anything like this and you probably won’t for a long time.THE ESSENTIALS

The Great Wall (M)

Directed by: Yimou Zhang

Starring: Matt Damon, Tian Jing, Willem Dafoe

Three stars

Review by: Julian Wright

In cinemas now