Wednesday, 5 August 2015

The Green Hornet (2011)

I'm not sure who thought that making The Green Hornet into a Seth Rogen vehicle was a good idea, though presumably Rogen himself was among them.  And I guess, if I squint really hard, I can even see a semblance of logic to it.  Rogen is well suited to play the vacuous playboy that is the Hornet's public identity, after all.

Where the concept - and thus the film - falls down is in making this version of the character a vacuous playboy in his crime-fighting identity as well.  This is not a man who fights crime to protect society from the losses he has suffered or because he is driven to right the world's wrongs.  He fights crime because it lets him roar around town in a hotted up car and beat people up.  Both of which he can only do thanks to his martial-arts-expert-and-mechanical-genius offsider, Kato.  Not that Kato is an any better person than his boss.  He's a lot tougher, sure, and brilliant with machines, but he's just as much as a dudebro in pretty much every other respect.

Now it's true that the Hornet's lack of substance does tie directly into the central theme of the film: the juxtaposition of appearance versus ability; and the value and weaknesses of each.  If you have enough style, can you get away with having no substance?  And if you have no style, will your ability always be overlooked?  These are questions the film is asking from almost its first scene.

On the other hand, while the film is clear about the questions it wants to ask, it is very muddled about what, if any, answers it might have.  And 'muddled' is a good summation of the film in general, as it is tonally all over the place, treating violence as grim and terrible in one scene and as the height of comedy in the next.  It's also deeply misguided in its depiction of its "heroes": they both come across as schmucks, frankly.

While there are a few laughs here from time to time, there are a lot more groans.  Skip it.

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