Published: Sun, February 19, 2017
Life&Culture | By Kristin Armstrong

Matt Damon Excited About His New Movie 'The Great Wall' (EUR Exclusive)

Matt Damon plays a thief named William, who is in China with his buddy Tovar (Narco's Pedro Pascal) to steal black powder, take it back to the West, sell it and make a fortune.

When he tried to combat the "white saviour of China" backlash, Matt Damon alluded to his character as being just one of many heroes in The Great Wall.

"The Great Wall is in the lyrics of our National Anthem, so it symbolizes the same thing in the heart of all Chinese, which is our people, our country and our history", says Yimou. Damon isn't in The Great Wall to be a white savior - he's there as a marketing tool for a movie that's trying to please as many people as possible and is unlikely to please anyone as a result. Zhang Yimou has created lovely films before with thoughtful characters and awesome visuals, but with The Great Wall the story, the mythology of the creatures and the characters all take a back seat to the admittedly eye-popping visuals. He stumbles across The Great Wall which is occupied by thousands of soldiers who are there to fight off an enemy invader that the world has never seen and no one would ever believe. The westerners, led by Matt Damon with an ridiculous beard and a truly, truly ridiculous accent, are just in time to witness the ancient goal of the Great Wall: keeping out the herd of timorous beasties known as the Tao Tie.

William Galin (Damon) and Pero Tovar (Pedro Pascal) are a pair of European traders looking for gunpowder in 11th-century China when they survive a late-night attack by a odd creature. They end up captives of the Nameless Order, and William discovers the honorable man within thanks to some exposure to one of their highest commanders: Lin Mae, played by the eerily attractive Jing Tian. The film has already grossed more than $220 million in China and will open Friday in the U.S. But both sides soon have more on their minds as they're under attack by the Tao Tei, bloodthirsty lizard monsters of legend from the nearby mountains that rouse themselves to attack every 60 years. Very little of The Great Wall is emotionally resonant, but it's all rather pretty.

Furthermore, I'm not sure why Damon even attempts to provide depth to a narrative that apparently didn't need any.

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On the Whole, The Great Wall makes for an enjoyable action filled 1hr and 45mins, with a couple of less exciting expositional bits thrown in for good measure. Those two scurry off to initiate a subplot while arrows fly, spears puncture, and red and green blood gushes.

Beauty is hard work - just ask Matt Damon.

"I was the main western character in the movie and it got a very big release and did well in China", he recalled. The mythical beasts assailing the wall are kind of boring in that glossy CGI way, with no real personality and not one but two overly convenient weaknesses.

The most fun comes from the Chinese defenders of the wall, armed with elaborate steampunk war machines and divided into vividly colour-coded commando units boasting different fantastical specialties. That said, Damon and Jing Tian are pleasant to watch, and the Nameless Order is fascinating whenever it isn't fighting - I'd happily watch a Game of Thrones set in that dining hall.

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