(Note: This review is the personal opinion of Josh Litman and is separate from the video review found in the upcoming series instalment, “The Green Hornet” We Eat Films – Season 2 Episode 5.)
Suffice it to say, Michel Gondry’s (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) The Green Hornet surpassed my expectations. I thought it might be good, but in fact it was excellent; a near-perfect marriage of action and laughs.
Seth Rogen is Britt Reid, the protagonist and titular “hero” of the film; well, sort of. It would probably be closer to the truth to call Kato (Jay Chou) the real hero of the film – Reid’s title-less sidekick. Simply put, Kato kicks ass in every way imaginable: He builds the coolest sh*t ever, beats the living crap out of the most amount of people, and makes the best damn coffee in the world. But I’m getting ahead of myself here.
Reid plays a somewhat knuckle-headed quasi-playboy whose father’s untimely death leads to his inheritance of a rather vast fortune, not least of which is possession of The Daily Sentinel, a prominent newspaper his father owned. Reid’s father was kind of an a**hole though, so Reid becomes “The Green Hornet” out of spite and a desire for justice. Nothing says F*CK YOU to your dad like becoming a superhero.
Except Reid kind of sucks at it. Luckily, Kato, Reid Senior’s kickass coffee-making genius mechanic thought the old man was a bit of a dick too, so he joins forces with Britt to fight crime (Note: Kato is awesome at everything). The idea is that they pose as criminals themselves so that the real criminals won’t use their heroic altruism against them. However, this means that both the criminals and the po-pos will be hot on their tails.
Insecure crime boss Chudnofsky (Christoph Waltz) isn’t too happy to see a couple of masked “superheroes” dressed in green upsetting his business. On top of that, everyone is saying the masked duo is cooler than him, so he shoots a lot of people out of frustration with a wicked double-barrelled handgun. Waltz seems to have a lot of fun playing another memorable bad guy following his villainous, award-worthy turn in Inglourious Basterds.
While Rogen is his usual entertaining self (minus a lot of weight), Chou hands-down steals the show. While playing a great straight man, he delivers a number of zingers of his own. And man can he fight! I haven’t enjoyed watching movie action sequences this much in awhile. I really hope this isn’t the last we’ve seen of Chou.
And Edward James Olmos (most recently the best part of one of the best damn shows of all time – Battlestar Galactica) adds some gravitas to an otherwise thankless role as Michael Axford, a reporter at The Daily Sentinel. He does contribute to a great line or two, though (Axford: You are blowing this guy completely out of proportion. Reid: I will blow this guy in any proportion I want!).
Cameron Diaz is fine.
If there is one big issue I have with the film, it is that Reid’s character follows a very conventional path. While the direction the character takes is spiced up a little by Rogen’s sense of humour, the arc is nonetheless predictable. And while we can mostly accept Kato’s blatant disregard of Reid’s egotism (you know, just because), there are times when you’ll want to shout out loud to Kato right through the screen, “DUDE WHY DO YOU KEEP TAKING THIS SH*T FROM HIM? YOU CAN PROBABLY DECAPITATE REID WITH YOUR MIDDLE FINGER!” Reid and Kato’s hilariously violent physical fight partway through the film somewhat remedies this, however.
Overall, the seen-it-before predictability of the protagonist’s character arc is a definite detractor, but not nearly enough to stop me from recommending this kickass film. It has a truly unique and memorable cinematographic style and performances are, for the most part, excellent. It might not be Eternal Sunshine, but Gondry’s The Green Hornet is one hell of an entertaining action-comedy.
(Oh and the old Green Hornet theme does pop up, in case you were wondering.)
My rating: 8.5/10