Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews
- Category: Jacqueline Monahan
- Published on 15 January 2011
- Written by Jacqueline Monahan
Jacqueline Monahan is an English tutor for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also a consultant for Columbia College Chicago in Adjunct Faculty Affairs
Seth Rogen as Britt Reid? As comedian Judy Tenuta was fond of saying, “It could happen,” and apparently has. A slimmed-down Rogen stars as the secret crime fighter known as The Green Hornet. As executive producer the guy can have it any way he wants it. As it turns out, he wants it loud and rude, more Green Buffoon than Hornet.
Reid’s Asian sidekick - who actually kicks - is back as well. Kato (Jay Chou) the martial arts master and ace mechanic who also makes a mean cup of coffee has the moves of an elegant deadly ballet dancer combined with the swiftness of a rapid-fire nail gun.
But first, a little backstory. Britt Reid grows up in his powerful media mogul father’s shadow. James Reid (Tom Wilkinson) owner/ editor of The Daily Sentinel, disapproves of his son’s slacker attitude and partying lifestyle.
After James dies suddenly from an apparent bee sting, a spoiled, self-indulgent Reid inherits the newspaper, discovers Kato among his dad’s former employees, and concocts a plan to fight crime while being perceived as a criminal himself. He uses the newspaper to further his infamous reputation.
After the costume and car is established, the masked partners in crime (fighting) hit the streets and clean it up while taking the blame for some of the mayhem. Reid is so rich that he can afford this very expensive hobby to get some adrenaline-filled kicks. Kato provides a slick, self-assured, kick-ass presence and the two make an effective team.
District Attorney Scanlon (David Harbour) has a vested interest in the city’s criminal element and a proposal for Britt Reid that concerns the Green Hornet. Of course, no one knows the identity of the masked man so situations get tricky for team Green. Scanlon has a smarmy smile and a position of power so you can guess he’ll be swept up into the hornet’s nest at some point.
There is also a villain in the form of heroin kingpin Ben Chudnofsky (Christoph Waltz) who likes to be feared and has henchman, a hideout, lots of weapons and some type of accent. As if you needed anything else to tell you he was a bad guy.
A side plot introduces the superfluous character of Lenore (Cameron Diaz) as Reid’s secretary in what can only be described as an attempt to dumb down a surprisingly clever (at times) script with stale pick-up lines and produce a silly romantic rivalry between the Reid and Kato. Audible yawn.
This is another 3-D production, and it’s used effectively to impart a kind of comic book action to the story – and there’s plenty of it, including gunshots, vehicle crashes and fiery explosions. Slow motion dominates some of the fight scenes and Kato’s choreography is precise and gracefully lethal.
Seth Rogen pulls off the ambivalent Hornet persona (although more like a bumbling bee) but it’s Chou who wows as the gifted, pugilistic Kato. Cameron Diaz’s Lenore serves no useful purpose except to appear arbitrarily in her underwear and mouth improbable dialogue from time to time.
Edward James Olmos, James Franco (uncredited) and Edward Furlong make brief appearances.
Director Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) goes for the action, hoping the story will somehow take care of itself. Rogen co-wrote, along with Evan Goldberg (Superbad), Fran Striker, and George W. Trendle (series creator) assemble an uneven script with occasionally sharp dialogue that is content to highlight style over substance.
Those who remember the television series featuring Van Williams and Bruce Lee may be disappointed at the coarse, broad humor Rogen injects into the character, removing all vestige of suave and inserting some swine instead. Chou is a more satisfying Kato, but even he falls short of predecessor Bruce Lee’s majestic, dignified screen presence.
Younger viewers may embrace the new green anti-hero. Those looking for a nostalgic adventure will wonder what all the buzz was about.