Europen mercenaries on the hunt for black powder are thrust into the defense of The Great Wall of China against a horde of creatures.
Yimo Zhang captures some beautiful visuals here. It’s hard to take your eyes off the screen. The colors are so vibrant and bright. They really stick out among the battle scenes. Zhang deserves a bulk of the credit for this film. The battle scenes with the creatures are pretty over the top. It’s hard to take in all at once, there are plenty of these green, lizard like beings. The visuals really make this film. Zhang’s direction and visual flare takes a pretty bland story, and adds some energy.
Matt Damon is playing himself here. It’s not a knock on his performance necessarily, him bringing Good Will Hunting level chops wasn’t needed for this role. Damon is great in the action scenes, and is in tremendous shape at this point in his career. Still one of the biggest action stars in Hollywood. The studio knows that in order to get a Great Wall movie made, they need a reputable Hollywood star. A movie like this doesn’t even enter pre production without his name attached.
Tian Jing deserves some recognition as well, she plays Commander Lin Mae. Very believable as the leader of this army against the monsters. She has a certain credibility about her. Once she comes on screen, she owns it. Opposite Matt Damon that’s high praise.
The film drags at points in the middle. You get a massive scale battle, and then you’re stuck with this story. There’s nothing here script wise. William (Damon) and Tovar (Pedro Pascal) were on the hunt for black powder before they were taken in at The Wall. This whole black powder thing was unnecessary. William and Tovar would’ve ended up at the wall due to having slain a beast. It just added something to the film that didn’t need to be there.
The costume design deserves a shoutout as well. They’re so bright. Armor just popping off the screen. It’s breathtaking. I usually don’t have any reason to talk about the costume design, it’s paramount in this case.
The Great Wall makes up for its paint by numbers story with powerful visuals. It’s bland at times, but when you’re in the heat of battle it’s hard not to get wrapped up in it.