The Green Hornet
In director Michel Gondry’s updated version The Green Hornet tale, writer and star Seth Rogen tries his best to make The Green Hornet finally standout above his sidekick. The key word is “tries”. The film focuses on Britt Reid (Rogen), the son of a wealthy news paper publisher (Tom Wilkinson), who must take over his father’s empire after his passing. After foiling a robbery with his father’s driver, Kato (Jay Chou), Britt realizes that it is his destiny to help others. Creating The Green Hornet alter-ego, Britt wages a war on crime and inadvertently finds himself the main target of a local crime lord, Benjamin Chudnofsy (Christoph Waltz).
Despite Gondry and Rogen’s best efforts, The Green Hornet still falls victim to the same flaws that hindered its predecessors. Britt Reid is just not that interesting a character, especially in this version where he is portrayed as a low-rent Arthur, a drunken party boy with daddy issues. Jay Chou’s Kato upstages Reid both in the action scenes and the comedic ones. One of the more humorous moments in the film comes when Kato is hitting on Reid’s secretary, Lenore Case (Cameron Diaz), even though he know Reid is interested in her. Kato is so charming that it is a shame that the film was not centered around his character.
In fact even the villain, Chudnofsky, is far more engaging than the hero. Waltz is starting to rival Mark Strong as Hollywood’s go to bad guy, he is fairly entertaining in this film. The idea of a neurotic villain struggling to find a more menacing persona is amusing. Waltz does his best to bring life to the film, but is stifled by the muddled plot. The film spends so much time trying to establish The Green Hornet as a credible hero that it loses sight of the plot by the halfway point and becomes a farce by the end.
The film tries to keeps the action somewhat grounded as Reid is learning how to be a superhero despite not having superpowers. Yet by the last act any sense of realism is thrown out the window. The Green Hornet and Kato are dodging bullets, driving a car that has been sliced in half, and surviving situations that would be plausible for Kato but not for Reid’s Green Hornet. In the end, it just does not work. Rogen’s need to try and make the film a comedic romp does not work well. It is tough to take The Green Hornet seriously as a hero when it feels like he should be the sidekick instead of the star.