Review: The Great Wall (2016)

Stars: Matt DamonTian JingWillem DafoePedro Pascal

Director: Yimou Zhang

The plot:

The Great Wall presents its story based on one of the legends behind the reason the wall was built.  The wall was built to protect China from an army of ferocious creatures that would attack the country every sixty years to remind mankind of the consequences of greed.  That time is approaching when two mercenaries find asylum, or rather are taken prisoner, at the wall whilst searching for black powder. Whilst one mercenary wishes to escape with what they came for the other finds a purpose in helping the Chinese in their fight against the oncoming hordes.


The cast:

You have Matt Damon and Pedro Pascal as William and Tovar, brothers in arms and our lead mercenaries.  The bromance gets very tedious early on and neither really paint themself in any great light.  It’s not that they aren’t capable, they are, but I just don’t think very much was asked of them and they responded in kind.  The same could be said of Willem Dafoe‘s Ballard who had been at the wall for twenty-five years already.  He too had designs on the black powder but there was no real conviction in his performance.  It was as if he had just read the script and just repeated what was written as if it demanded nothing more.  Tian Jing was the only really enthused display on offer which was helped in some part by her bright armour, you couldn’t miss that!

The film:

Maybe I went in a little blind to this film.  I expected something darker, a little bit more perilous and menacing.  This was very much a film set up for 3D, a feature I really have no time for, and the film itself suffers for this misdirected attention.  It really did feel like a kids film, which is fine if that’s what you are expecting.  The attempts at humour fell flat throughout the film and despite some impressive scenery the film has no identity to speak of.  At some points I also found the effects to be somewhat blurry and out of focus.  The last point brings me to the fact that for the final sequences of the film the action moved to the capital city having moved on from the wall which, for me, kind of takes everything away from the titular centre point of the film.  One positive note is the attention paid the armour and general costumes worn by the The Great Wall’s army.  It was bright and particularly eye-catching.  To say I was disappointed by the film on the whole would be a fair statement, it didn’t deliver what brought me to the cinema in the first place and I was relieved when the film closed.

The verdict:

2/5 Stars: Just remove the “Great” from “The Great Wall”

The Great Wall on IMDb

The Great Wall Official Website


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