Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

The Great Wall

(USA, China, 2016)

This is one of the goofiest big budget films you are ever likely to see. Goofier than Transformers or Godzilla, if you can believe that. When you find yourself laughing during the scenes that are supposed to be intense and scary, you know a picture just wasn’t thought out well. How in the world was Matt Damon convinced to sign on?

It seems that the Great Wall of China wasn’t built to keep human invaders out, but some very nasty aliens. For some reason, every sixty years they emerge from somewhere and start killing. They are hive creatures, with a queen. Kill her, and the whole colony just stops working.

So all along and within the wall are several different classes of ninja-like warriors. I didn’t care enough to learn their names. One was an all-female group of bad-ass bungee jumpers. I’m not kidding. They would jump off the Wall and plummet down (the Wall seems to be about a half a mile high in these shots) headfirst, to either kill some aliens or end up much like a worm on the end of a hook. The casualty rate was enormous.

Enter Matt Damon as a rogue who set out for the mysterious Orient to find the secret of the explosive black powder. But bandits are on his tail. He ends up a prisoner, but he is so damn good (too good to believe) at fighting that they let him loose to help. It all gets sillier and sillier, culminating in an aerial voyage to the capitol in hot air balloons. Which they steer precisely to the building where they need to be. And sorry, everyone involved in this incredible mess of a film, I hate to tell you this, but a hot air balloon can be “steered” in only two directions: Up, or Down. If you have very good weather reports you can ascend or descend to catch favorable wind currents. That is it for steering. I somehow don’t think that the Chinese weather bureau in 1060 was sending out very good reports by radio, or even semaphore. And believe me, this is far from the silliest silly thing in this movie. This one is watchable only by the most addicted action junkies … or people in countries where English is not spoken. You don’t need to read a lot of subtitles when the action is this fast, furious, and stupid.