* * C
Great Wall is a film about a pair of European mercenaries, William (Matt “Bourne” Damon) and Tovar (Pedro Pascal), who come to China looking for the secret of gunpowder. Instead, they discover the Taotie, a race of vicious reptilian beings named after a Chinese demon, and the secret Chinese military order who protect the capital from them, having built the Great Wall for this purpose.
This is an action epic full of intrigue, combat, and a ton of CGI generated monsters. The film is beautiful, drawing heavily on other Chinese films. William becomes a valuable ally of Lin Mae (Tian Jing), the command of an all female division of the troops guarding the wall who descend on ropes to defend the wall as the monsters try to scale it.
The story is straightforward, the acting good. Damon tries to put on a bit of an accent in places, but has only slightly more flare for it than Costner. Much of the dialog is in Chinese, with subtitles. Tian Jing and Damon have good chemistry, but little is done with their relationship. Her character could have been male without significantly changing the script.
I feel this film was unfairly panned. It’s watchable, and fun, though ultimately forgettable. It reminded me of Starship Troopers, set in a fantastic version of historical China. The creature design is a little weird, and there is some bad CGI here and there. That said, if you like Chinese film and science fiction, this is a good easy watch.