The Movie: The Green Hornet
The Players: Seth Rogen, Cameron Diaz, Christoph Waltz, Jay Chou
The Makers: Michel Gondry (director), Neal H. Moritz (producer), Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg (writers)
Run time: 108 minutes
2011’s remake of The Green Hornet, directed by Michel Gondry, is a superhero action comedy co-written and starring the Judd Apatow alum Seth Rogen. Rogen stars as Britt Reid, the irresponsible son of newspaper magnate James Reid. Reid senior finds nothing but disappointment in his son, a fact he doesn’t try to hide throughout the boy’s life. When James dies suddenly, Britt finds himself in charge of his father’s newspaper, the Daily Sentinel, which is a mere inconvenience to his playboy lifestyle. He forms a friendship with his father’s mechanic/barista, Kato, and after a night of drunken mischief where they’re mistaken as criminals, they decide to continue working together as a crime-fighting duo. Before long, their escapades are front page news, and Britt realises that as the owner of a newspaper, he can spin the stories to his advantage, with the help of his new secretary, Lenore Case (Cameron Diaz).
Britt decides he and Kato should pose as criminals to try and infiltrate the Los Angeles underworld in an attempt to clean up the streets of the city, and they quickly make an enemy out of Benjamin Chudnofsky (Christoph Waltz), a Russian mobster who controls the crime in LA. As Britt and Kato are unwittingly drawn deeper into a tangled web of blackmail, involving his late father, the District Attorney and Chudnofsky, they begin to realise there are powers at work that are well beyond their amateur crime fighting skill and understanding. Britt and Kato’s partnership also becomes more and more competitive, as does their affection for the beautiful and intelligent Lenore. As The Green Hornet’s profile rises, so to does the price on Britt's head, with Chudnofsky and the District Attorney eager to remove him from the picture.
The film starts of with the potential to be a slick, comic book franchise film, but its weaknesses are apparent from the start. Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s script is insubstantial and lacks the punchy, comedic, and heroic dialogue that should be one of the main drawcards for audiences. Rogen’s portrayal of Britt Reid is somewhat uneven, as the character swings between boyishly amusing and brazenly obnoxious, often making him unlikeable. Christoph Waltz is disappointingly underused as the movie’s villain and Cameron Diaz doesn’t quite seem like the right fit for Lenore Case. However, it’s Taiwanese musician and singer-songwriter Jay Chou as The Green Hornet’s sidekick who brings the most humour to the film. His impressive superhero gadgetry, witty banter and the madcap car chase antics between Kato and Reid are what saves this film from being a complete disaster. One definitely gets the feeling that Michel Gondry’s individual style was quashed in by the studio, which disappointingly could have been the deciding factor that turned a mediocre action film into a quirky, memorable and fun superhero flick.
In a word: disappointing