Directed by: Michel Gondry
Premise: An adaptation of the Marvel comic book. The inheritor of a wealthy newspaper empire (Seth Rogan) teams up with his father’s former assistant (Jay Chou) to fight crime on the streets of Los Angeles.
What Works: The Green Hornet is periodically very funny due to director Michel Gondry’s characteristically quirky sense of humor. This is not a comic book adventure out to make a political statement like X2: X-Men United or The Dark Knight nor is it heavy on the mythology like Superman Returns. The Green Hornet intends to be a silly action film with big explosions and some laughs and it accomplishes that modest goal, but just barely.
What Doesn’t: The Green Hornet has a lot of weaknesses. The story arc of Seth Rogan’s character is based on his relationship with his father but the film does not do enough early on in the film to establish that relationship. Conversely, the development of the conspiracy plot is delayed up until the climax, so it is rushed and never properly develops. In between, the film is primarily an origin story but neither Rogan or Chou are able to do much with their characters except reiterate clichés of buddies-in-action films done better in Lethal Weapon, Bad Boys, 48 Hours, and Hot Fuzz. A lot of the shortcomings of the middle section of the film are due to the hit and miss nature of humor. When the humor works it is very funny but the laughs are not as consistent as they ought to be and many of the gags are lame. Christoph Waltz plays the villain and in order for The Green Hornet to work as an action film it needs a credible threat. The script doesn’t create that kind of character for Waltz and despite the actor’s best efforts he does not present the level of antagonism necessary to elevate the heroes’ actions from stupidity to bravery.
Bottom Line: The Green Hornet is an average action film. It has plenty of chases and explosions and undemanding viewers may find it satisfying. Those hoping for a more sophisticated take on The Green Hornet will likely be disappointed.
Episode: #323 (January 23, 2011)