This Chinese action movie starring American Matt Damon feels too much like two movies sandwiched together in order to make the most money at the two cultures’ box offices. Sadly, the Hollywood half is the weaker of the two, and it dilutes another visually strong effort from Hero director Zhang Yimou.
The period action flick retcons the building of the Great Wall of China as a deterrent to protect the world from alien lizard monsters called Taoties. A couple of European mercenaries, William (Damon) and Tovar (Pedro Pascal, the Red Viper from “Game of Thrones”), are searching for black powder and become embroiled in the battle between the Taotie and a secret Chinese military division called the Nameless Order.
Yimou’s visuals are stunning, and The Great Wall’s battle sequences belong in a more epic tale than this pulpy one concocted by a slew of Hollywood writers, including Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton), Max Brooks (World War Z) and Edward Zwick (The Last Samurai). A Hollywood star may make strong business sense, but Damon feels more out of place than the trailers can reveal. As Commander Lin, Jing Tian makes a strong impression and an even stronger hero than old Will Hunting. The Great Wall is no wonder, but has more to marvel at than scoff.