The road to the big screen has been a long and illustrious battle
for The Green Hornet. 80 years after the original program hit the
airwaves, Michel Gondry and Seth Rogen’s adaptation has been plagued by
problems, drop-outs, changed release dates and 3D additions but that
hasn’t stopped the majority of it being very fun.
Britt Reid (Rogen) is the underachieving son of a ridiculously wealthy newspaper publisher James Reid (Wilkinson)
with no intention of doing anything but throwing raucous parties and
sleeping with girls who are definitely not interested in his
personality. His playboy lifestyle is thrown out of whack when his
father dies and leaves his entire empire to him but before he signs over
the company to someone who actually knows what they’re doing, an
unlikely friendship changes him and his life goals.
Reid summons the recently sacked Kato (Chou) who usually
makes his brew and after a brief look at his wondrous coffee making
creation, a slew of cool kitted out cars and sketches of Bruce Lee
(geddit?), they bond. Angry at his un-loving father, he ventures into
the night to lob the head off his memorial statue but unwittingly
becomes embroiled in a brawl with some dodgy street people who are
attempting to rob a nice couple. After Kato comes to Reid’s rescue and
kicks seven shades of ass, the pair decides to use his position at the
paper to popularize a superhero named The Green Hornet.
While superhero movies may have evolved from stupid, vacuous silliness to serious award contenders with critical acclaim, it’s quite clear from the get go that The Green Hornet is all about the fun.
Yes, he has father issues and a dead absent mother and is clearly going
to go from a selfish fun bag to a dull mask wearer who learns to do the
right thing, but Rogen and his writing partner Evan Goldberg are all
over it. The first 40 minutes provides several laugh out loud moments
with wry observational humour and popular culture references that are
carried by Rogen’s unmistakable charisma. He’s one of the most watchable
actors around and everything from his excitable man/boy charm to that
ridiculous laugh is enjoyable.
Much credit should also go to Jay Chou, an unknown in the
west but a superstar in his native Taiwan and several other countries,
who at times subtlety steals the show and gives the film it’s most
eye-bogging fight sequences. Unfortunately the same can’t be said for
Christophe Waltz as the token and slightly dull baddie of the piece who
starts well but soon descends into embarrassment due to no fault of his
own. The entire film starts on a high but after a change in tone and a
last hour completely devoid of laughs, becomes a bit dull, long, drawn
out and uninteresting. Entire characters give nothing to the film
(Cameron Diaz’s Lenore could’ve been completely edited out and it
would’ve made no difference) and the penultimate explanation makes zero
sense and comes off more than little silly.
Although it’s the performance and script you’d expect from Rogen the
film doesn’t particularly seem like a Gondry. Time and space is played
around with during the slow motion action sequences and the end credits
in particular are a great advert for classic comics along with Pop Art
but this is definitely a mainstream offering from the man known for
manipulating mise en scene in music videos and films alike.
Ultimately The Green Hornet is fun but never fulfils its
potential or seems to know what it wants to be, but maybe they’ll know
by the inevitable sequel.