Film Review: "Green Hornet" lacks originality and class.
Published: Wednesday, January 19, 2011 - 11:37am
Released: 14 January 2011
Directed by: Michel Gondry
Run Time: 119 min
After nearly twenty years in movie limbo, it seems that"The Green Hornet" has finally made it out of the starting gate. After losing star power like George Clooney, Kevin Smith, and Nicholas Cage, it was up to Seth Rogen to save the project from complete deterioration. Unfortunately, Rogen's style of humor doesn't seem to fit the movie's most central themes.
"The Green Hornet" is the story of Brit Reed, a party animal and heir to his father's multi-million dollar newspaper. When dad dies from a hornet sting, he leaves his newspaper and his millions to the son he never appreciated. Brit is overwhelmed and gives up on ever meeting his father's standards, so he decides to drown his sorrows in alcohol with his mechanic, Kato (Jay Chou).
After a drunken prank goes wrong, Brit and Kato end up saving a young couple from being mugged.
The two agree that they liked the feeling of helping people and decide to become superheroes, but at the same time they find it impossible to escape the criticism of the press.
Brit decides that instead of conventional superheroes, the two will pose as super-villains and dismantle organized crime from the inside. Brit then spends countless millions on the tech and weapons he needs to become the Green Hornet.
This premise sounds good on paper, but conflicting tones emerge when converting a movie that involves mass murder into a comedy. Characters like The Punisher work because they kill with hate and spite. They are driven to that place by anger and sorrow, which provides for a complex look at the idea of revenge and punishment.
The Green Hornet kills without remorse, and is comical while doing so.
This is not to say that comical murder cannot be made to work. Kickass and any given Coen brothers film provides a laundry list of ways to make that work. It's more the issue of how little Brit seems to understand his actions. He treats the situation like a little kid who's found daddy's gun, remarking with "Ew! Gross!" when accidentally trying to interrogate a man Kato just shot in the head.
The dual tonality of this film makes me wonder if a few scripts were combined during the long development period. The "hero" who uses a gas gun that shoots knockout gas instead of bullets is the same man who fires a missile in the middle of a crowded business complex on a frantic whim.
By this point it may become abundantly obvious that the Green Hornet is a terrible superhero. Playing the same character he plays in every movie he's in, Seth Rogen is a simpering idiot who has no skills or positive personality characteristics.
Jay Chou, on the other hand, plays a human wrecking ball as Kato. With mechanic skills, munitions knowledge, karate expertise, and a consistent moral compass, Kato is the only saving grace of the film. In a style similar to Sherlock Holmes, Kato is able to plan his attacks in slow motion before carrying them out. The only problem with making Kato so good is that it makes the titular character useless. Almost every word out of Rogen's mouth makes you want to punch him, which must have occurred to the writers, since almost every character takes a swing at him.
Other appearances include Inglorious Bastards' Christoph Waltz as the style-obsessed villain, and Cameron Diaz as the target of Chou and Rogen's affection. In the end, the film fails to support its main character properly. Instead of a stylish billionaire detective, we have a dopey frat bot that got hold of a fedora and a troubling number of cruise missiles. Jay Chou salvages what he can of the film, but it's not enough to push it above mediocrity.
I certainly won't go see a "Green Hornet 2". Of course, a spinoff called "Kato"? Now we're talking!