“The Great Wall” stars Matt Damon as a trader, whose team has died, while on a quest for black powder during the Song Dynasty. This is not the Matt Damon I know. The Matt Damon I know gave one of his best performances in “Good Will Hunting,” upon which he won the Oscar for his screenplay. The Matt Damon I know continues to entertain us with the “Jason Bourne” movies, “The Martian,” and “The Departed.” And the Matt Damon I know produced “Manchester by the Sea,” my choice of the best movie of 2016. But here, he’s all action and bad dialogue.
The Great Wall of China is a barrier from the monsters who attack soldiers, and must feed their queen in order for her to multiply. If they have magnetic rocks, they tame them, but if they kill her, the monsters die. They all look like cheesy CGI monsters, the kind that you see in video games.
There are a few qualities “The Great Wall” offers, but they have nothing to do with CGI or bad acting. They have to do with the production design. I’ve enjoyed looking at the water wheels, desert, underground passage with water, and colorful glass windows, which give off a certain radiance. And one gag that made me smile on the inside is when Damon’s remaining partner (Pedro Pascal) and a prisoner (Willem Dafoe) set off explosives, which don’t go off at first. That’s either predictable or silly in an interesting sort-of way. Other than that, I deserve better.
We can’t turn against Damon for all the wonderful movies he’s contributed to, but this movie is a major step behind. If this movie starred Nicolas Cage, it probably would have gotten five sad faces. But he’s not in it, so I can’t do that.