The Green Hornet, an update to the short-lived television series from the 60’s, has faced a great deal of scrutiny throughout development. From questions regarding the script by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, to the decision for Rogen to star, and even some bad buzz and a delay attributed to 3D conversion, the project has been largely doubted. Somehow through all that is a finished film that delivers on pure entertainment value and could be the start of a successful franchise.
The story centers on Britt Reid (Rogen) who inherits his father’s estate after his death. Forming a friendship with the mechanic/coffee maker Kato, the two decide they have been wasting their potential and set out to become heroes using each one’s particular strenghts. Kato is a technical expert with amazing fighting skills while Reid has all the money needed to fund their actions.
In discussing how to go about things, Reid brings up the dilemma faced by superheroes. The “bad guys” have the upper hand because they know the heroes are susceptible to threats. Instead they decide to build themselves up with the image of being “bad guys” and therefore work their way up the chain to gain credibility with the hopes that then that they would be able to best help people in need.
There is where the movie takes the turn to being more unique, in that most of what they do is an attempt to boost their own stock as “The Green Hornet” and unnamed sidekick rather than just going out and playing the heroes. It makes for an interesting dynamic and places them in dangerous situations where the escapes and outcomes become more elaborate.
The visuals are handled really well, the production value is high in particular with the stunts. The action sequences are handled masterfully which I really hadn’t anticipated. The car chase scenes and fight scenes are top notch. There is even a gimmicky “Kato-Vision” used selectively where you basically see what he sees at certain moments, as time slows down and he identifies threats and it actually works given the context of the events taking place. I did not see the movie in 3D, and given that it is a conversion it really wouldn’t be necessary to see it in that format.
At heart though this is an action comedy and they have succeeded in delivering both sides of that. There were many genuinely funny moments throughout. Rogen and Jay Chau (Kato) have great chemistry and played off each other really well.
I hesitate to say Chau stole the show as Kato because just about every role was played effectively for what was needed. Rogen was quite good as Britt Reid, showing inexperience and eagerness while remaining just grounded enough to remain believable. Christoph Waltz was excellent as the criminal kingpin who is pegged as being past his time. Only Cameron Diaz failed to stand out as Reid’s secretary and the duo’s source of research information.
Looking back on the film I do wonder whether the ends justified the means, eventually the motivations and plans for Britt and Kato evolved, but even then it remains questionable whether the goal of “helping people” was really achieved. They left a lot of destruction in their wake, and though most of that was inflicted on criminals, there certainly would have been innocents caught up in that including the police who are act as a completely faceless entity here.
The Green Hornet was a surprisingly fun ride, with some excellent action sequences and a lot of laughs. Not a typical “superhero” movie it does touch on some familiar themes but pulls it off with unique style and a satisfying conclusion.
The Green Hornet opens on January 14th and is rated PG-13