There have been rumors swirling for a long time that The Green Hornet was a troubled production. Original director Stephen Chow bailed on the movie; George Clooney was once attached, as was Kevin Smith.
Eventually Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) took over the directing duties. Seth Rogan co-wrote the movie, and stars as the title character. Many felt that he was all wrong for the role of the beloved superhero, but he did end up losing about 30 pounds to slim down for the role.
After all is said and done, The Green Hornet is a mixed bag. I liked certain parts, but more often than not I had to keep myself from mentally checking out to go over my grocery list. I had to concentrate on watching the movie, and that is never a good sign.
Seth Rogan plays Britt Reid, the Paris Hilton of the publishing world. The sole heir of a publishing empire, Britt spends his life partying and behaving like an all around jackass. He has a bad relationship with his no nonsense father (Tom Wilkinson) who has no time or patience for his son’s antics. We are shown in flashbacks that the two never had a warm relationship.
When Britt’s father abruptly dies (from a bee sting), Britt must finally step up and take some responsibility. He makes fast friends with his father’s auto mechanic Kato (who is later revealed to be master gadget maker) and with the support of his new friend, he decides to run The Daily Sentinel, his father’s legacy building publication.
This makes him suddenly cognizant of their city’s high level of crime, and the two friends hatch a plan to fight crime in the city (vigilante style) by posing as villains. They create the alter-ego The Green Hornet for Britt, and Kato serves as the dutiful side-kick who is actually the only one capable of kicking any sort of ass.
Conveniently, Kato is a whiz at building weapons, tricking out cars, martial arts, and some type of ninja mind control stuff. Britt, as the Green Hornet, just bumbles around from scene to scene, taking credit for their successes. Eventually, this causes a riff between the two, as their egos clash. Meanwhile, the city’s criminal mastermind Chudnofsky (played with sly humor by Christoph Waltz) is miffed that somebody is is taking a bite out of his crime syndicate, setting up for a final confrontation.
Cameron Diaz appears as Britt’s secretary Lenore, and her role feels like a complete afterthought. It is completely wasted, and there is absolutely nothing for her to do besides look pretty.
The biggest problem with the film is its uneven pacing. Action set pieces are immediately followed by long, dull sequences that remove any momentum the film had going for it. There are several funny scenes, but they don’t particularly work with the film.
There are some gaps in logic, as well. The film is supposed to take place now, but there is a long, complicated scene about trying to get a zip drive to the newspaper to publish some incriminating information. The men risk life and limb to get that drive to the newspaper offices. Umm, apparently they have never heard of the internet, where they could have uploaded the information from the safety of their own home. Just a thought.
On the upside, I really enjoyed Asian actor Jay Chou. He steps into the role that Bruce Lee played in the 1960’s television series. He is charismatic and appeared to handle the physicality of his role well. I’m sure we will see more of him in the future.
Michel Gondry is a talented director, but this film is a bit of a mess. It’s utterly forgettable. I can barely remember the plot a mere three days after seeing the film. The film is also in 3D, for no discernible reason. The only time the 3D enhances the film is during the final credits. It is not bad 3D, it’s just not necessary, at all. Ultimately, the film is mired in mediocrity. With all the Oscar bait in theaters right now, you can do a lot better.