The Green Hornet (2011)
The Green Hornet (2011)

Genre: Superhero Running Time: 1 hr. 59 min.

Release Date: January 14th, 2011 MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: Michel Gondry Actors: Seth Rogen, Jay Chou, Cameron Diaz, Christoph Waltz, Analeigh Tipton

 


 

“T

he Green Hornet” attempts to represent the very epitome of cool, with fast cars, masked crime-fighters, seductive girls, dastardly villains, enormous explosions, martial arts combat, and senseless destruction. The creators must have thought they had every element necessary to build the perfect action flick – but they completely forgot to design a sensible plot and interesting characters. Although the story is based loosely on the 1930’s “Green Hornet” radio series and the TV shows and comics that followed, this 2011 adaptation feels entirely like a Seth Rogen teen comedy.

That’s not altogether surprising, considering Rogen and Evan Goldberg (the writer of “Superbad” and “Pineapple Express”) not only penned the script but produced the movie as well. This causes the lead character, Britt Reid (Rogen), to assume the role of a giggling, incompetent schmuck, carelessly wasting away his father’s vast fortunes (superheroes cannot be poor) from “The Daily Sentinel,” the last independently owned Los Angeles newspaper. Drunken partying, countless nameless girls (summed up in a hyperspeed scene of love-making, sans actual sex, a la “A Clockwork Orange”) and pampered luxury fill up his days, not unlike Christopher Nolan’s early theatrical interpretations of Bruce Wayne. Reid even has a devoted, coffee-serving valet, Kato (Jay Chou) to wait on him, who secretly specializes in kung fu, words of wisdom, and hi-tech engineering.

When Reid’s father (Tom Wilkinson) dies, his spoiled life is suddenly thrown into perspective – he’s not consumed with filling shoes, but rather thrill-seeking, especially when he discovers Kato’s knack for kicking ass and customizing weapons onto their custom car, Black Beauty, like a human Swiss Army knife. Deciding to become a masked vigilante (leaving all the physical labor and fighting skills to his experienced partner), Reid dons the moniker “Green Hornet” and embarks on a mission to disrupt the crime in the city, conducted chiefly by aging mobster Chudnofsky (Christoph Waltz).

The only mildly amusing aspect of this generic superhero team is the notion that they pose as villains to get closer to the real criminals, while diminishing suspicions about their true motives to law enforcement. The rest is a hodgepodge of failures, from the ceaseless inclusion of juvenile slapstick, to the Academy Award-winning antagonist who embarrassingly switches from realistic to ridiculous while fretting over his intimidation abilities (he predictably participates in the offing of his own henchmen for evil demonstration), to the “drop dead gorgeous” secretary Lenore Case (a noticeably aging Cameron Diaz), who desperately struggles to retain even an ounce of the allure she possessed in “The Mask.”

Who is the one actor least likely to be on the top of every moviegoer’s list to star as an action hero? It would probably be Seth Rogen, who is so far removed from being anything other than a crass, cachinnating, chowderhead that his version of a cloaked vigilante is just short of a court jester. In its defense, “The Green Hornet” does feature a few thrilling car chases and explosive standoffs, but the typically dependable, macho hand-to-hand combat sequences we expect are tossed aside for highly stylized choreography and graphics that look like an inhuman, computer animated ninja dueling in a video game, with the option to pause and select targets and weaponry. The slow-motion in all the wrong spots and disastrous pacing don’t help either.

– Mike Massie

  • 3/10