film review: THE GREEN HORNET

Directed by Michael Gondry
Written by Seth Rogan, Evan Goldberg & George Trendle
Cinematography by John Schwartzman
Edited by Michael Tronick
Columbia Pictures.

“The Green Hornet” is one of those cynical studio blockbusters that makes you resent those two hours you just spent and will never get back.

For those who must know the plot, Britt Read (Rogan), son of wealthy newspaper tycoon James Reid (Tom Wilkinson), takes over his father’s company after the old man mysteriously dies. The question that Britt must grapple with over the course of the movie is whether his father was a good man, who stood up against corruption and the ever-falling standards of the media (ironically), or was he a bully, hypocrite, and mouthpiece for local mobsters.

The Sentinel is a Los Angeles family-owned newspaper, and it represents a fading industry. While it does employ the usual looking pasty, curmudgeonly newsmen from yore (including Edward James Almos with nothing to do) the prodigy ends up hiring Lenore Case (Cameron Diaz) as his personal secretary and ogling her at every chance.  There are just too many similarities here to “Iron Man”.  That movie, by contrast, is unadulterated genius.

Back home at the mansion, Britt ends up hitting it off with his dad’s young mechanic, Kato (Jay Chou) who makes the meanest latte this side of the Shanghai.  After a night out intended for debauchery, the two come across a crime scene taking place and well, let’s just say, Kato has watched his share of Bruce Lee films.

After realizing that they might be on to something important, the two decide that they are going to fight crime in Los Angeles, concentrating on the city’s corrupt major-domo, Chudnofsky (Chirstopher Waltz of Inglorious Basterds).

Seth Rogan can not carry an action movie, regardless of his newly svelt physique. His sidekick, Chou, has little screen presence, and sadly, Diaz is recycling the role of perky bombshell once too many times.  After the last “Charlie’s Angels” movie and the more recent “Knight and Day”, she should have sought out something more age appropriate and worthy of her talent.

“The Green Hornet” probably had the bones of something interesting and looked great on paper. Had it gone with more appropriate actors and more of a noir style of direction it might’ve succeeded quite nicely. However, it’s likely that it will be another twenty or thirty years until they make yet another attempt with this character. Meanwhile, this “Green Hornet” will sadly go by the way of “Daredevil” and “The Hulk”.

Michael Gondry has proven himself a deft director with movies like “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” and “The Science of Sleep” but has little idea of how to shoot an action movie. “The Green Hornet” just feel like a paycheck for all involved.

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