The Great Wall
Director: Zhang Yimou
Talent: Matt Damon, Tian Jing, Willem Dafoe, Andy Lau
Released: 17th February
The news that director Zhang Yimou would make his English-language debut with a historical fantasy set in China and starring Matt Damon was greeted with some trepidation, as it raised the usual concerns about the endemic whitewashing of ethnic roles in major Hollywood productions and the ongoing proliferation of white saviour narratives. Yimou and his team of writers kind of sidestep these issues by having Damon often play second fiddle to the lead Chinese character Lin (Tiang), but unfortunately, apart from a silly yet mildly intriguing premise, nothing else about The Great Wall works.
Damon’s mercenary soldier William arrives at the Great Wall of China and soon discovers that it was built to defend the country against a massive army of alien monsters. Reluctantly joining the fight and gradually forming a friendship with Commander Lin, William must decide whether to abandon his self-serving ways in favour of a higher cause, in a film undone by a severely underwritten script, wonky CGI, and a talented cast delivering career-worst performances. An epic turkey.
Words – Felipe Deakin