As co-writer, executive producer and star, Seth Rogan gives the superhero genre a comic spin with The Green Hornet, a goofy action comedy based on the 1960s TV series (itself derived from a 1930s radio show and its movie-serial and comic-book spin-offs).
In a casting decision that provoked fanboy fury when it was announced, Rogan plays Britt Reid, the playboy heir to an LA publishing empire who decides to do something with his wastrel life and become a masked crime-fighter.
A layabout party animal, Britt’s a useless vigilante. Fortunately, he’s got his late dad’s mechanic, Kato, as his sidekick. Played by Taiwanese star Jay Chou (in the role made famous by Bruce Lee), Kato’s a “human Swiss Army knife” who can knock up an indestructible, weapon-laden limo in the garage and proves a dab hand at biffing villains too.
Cameron Diaz is on the spot as Reid’s secretary, the unwitting brains behind the outfit, and Christoph Waltz (so good in Inglourious Basterds but wasted here) plays the story’s dapper crime lord villain. Both, though, don’t get enough to do.
If you find Rogan’s oafish man-child persona a scream, you may well get a buzz from The Green Hornet. If you find that persona insufferable, you’ll probably be itching for him to get swatted. Besides, he lacks chemistry with co-star Chou (impressively adroit when his feet and fists are flying but far from nimble when he opens his mouth), which pretty much knocks the film’s would-be buddy-comedy bromance on the head.
At the helm, director Michel Gondry (The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Science of Sleep and Be Kind Rewind) displays little of his trademark kookiness, though there’s a neat sequence in which the screen splits and branches into multiple images to show the crime lord’s word spreading through the LA underworld. Chou’s slo-mo’d fight scenes are pretty nifty too, but the car chases and vehicular mayhem go on far too long, and there just aren’t enough laughs to sustain the film’s overlong running time.
As for the film’s 3D conversion, only one word will do: why?
On general release from 14th January.