Seven Pounds (5/10)

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The trickiest thing about making a movie with a surprise ending is that you have to find a way to make it so that the twist feels like a fulfillment of the promises shown earlier in the flick, such that in retrospect everything takes on a new meaning in light of this revelation. Essentially, there needs to be a reason for the secret, and “Seven Pounds” ‘s lack of a reason is the beginning of its undoing – it tries so desperately to keep its secret that it kills a good premise with confused storytelling.
Will Smith is Ben Thomas, an IRS agent who we find out has memorized the names of seven people (why these seven particularly is the surprise), and spends the course of the movie approaching each of them individually and, it seems, trying to do good for them. That’s basically all you need to know, and it’s all I’m going to tell you because the movie barely even does that. As he bounces around the seven different people, the viewer is left way behind – try to keep up and keep track of all seven people he meet, and you’ll find that it seems like the first and last scenes were placed at the beginning and the end, while the rest were dumped into a hat, and drawn at random to determine their order.

Half a dozen scenes of certain characters will fly by and then a scene from one you completely forgot existed will pop up. “Oh yeah, that’s right, I forgot about them.” Sometimes the same character will be focused on for an extended period of time, and the jolt back to the rest of the characters will be handled clumsily and look especially unwieldy. When a smaller plot twist pops up about twenty minutes before the end, it’s even worse – it comes out of nowhere, confuses the storyline further, and will probably give away the ending for most of the viewers who are observant enough to just make a guess, making the peculiar vigor with which the screenplay guards the secret annoyingly unnecessary.

Too bad for the idea behind the story, because it’s actually fairly fascinating and would have made for a much more engrossing movie if the “secret” had been revealed at the beginning, allowing viewers to digest and travel along with the character in his decisions rather than always being two steps behind. Will Smith is, not surprisingly, perfect in the role, giving Ben Thomas a humble, self-effacing attitude, shedding his persona and allowing the audience to identify with him without the superstar “Aw HELL no!” attitude. He’s worked with the director before, Gabriele Muccino, on The Pursuit of Happyness, and she has a way of pulling the best out of the fresh prince, such that no matter what the material (luckily for this movie), he’s still able to inhabit the role completely and believably. Woody Harrellson as a blind telemarketer and one of the mysterious seven, Ezra Turner, with whom Smith shares an argument early in the movie, is only in a few choice scenes, but each one is riveting. Rosario Dawson as Emily Posa, also one of the seven, plays her character entire straight, but doesn’t add much depth to it and doesn’t share enough sparks or chemistry with Will Smith to make their extended scenes together particularly moving.

Perhaps one of the most annoying things about “Seven Pounds” is its role as an unabashed tear-jerker; actually, calling it tear-jerker might be an understatement. Instead, picture that the movie has a gun pointed at a litter of cute puppies and kittens the entire time, demanding that if you don’t cry they’re going to murder the lot of them. Literally every scene in the movie threatens to rewrite the definition of “melodrama,” and I lost count of how many times different characters were crying. It’s not a fun feeling to be forced to cry, and tripled with the bouncy storytelling and nonsensical devotion to keeping the secret, you have one movie that will probably alienate more viewers than it’s looking to snatch up. If bawling buckets of coerced tears is your thing, though, then by all means, have at it.

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One Response to “Seven Pounds (5/10)”

  1. i really didn’t like this movie, it was long and tedious. In fact it was because of this movie that i wanted to see another movie which was “Yes Man”( which took me by surprise, i loved it.)

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