“I need a name. Someone in the system. Having a really hard time”.
That’s Will Smith talking, folks, with an earnest, troubled face, genuine acting and emotion, and a believability that’s hard to resist. There are lots of moments like that in Seven Pounds, as Smith gets his teeth into a role that, quite frankly, doesn’t deserve him.
It’s a good performance from an actor who has the potential and range to be one of the finest of his generation. I mean it, too. Will Smith has flirted with greatness on many occasions – remember Michael Mann’s Ali? – and still turns in seemingly effortless crowd-pleasing turns as if they’re his second nature. He’s some talent, and in Seven Pounds, he gives another good performance.
The supporting cast too of Seven Pounds is fine. Barry Pepper, Woody Harrelson and Rosario Dawson are perfectly sound professionals, and none of them let the side down. Dawson in particular is a solid co-star, in a more complex than usual role. The ingredients for success here are very much in place.
But the film’s a stinker, no two ways about it. At heart, the story of a man who we learn is responsible for a terrible event, we meet Smith’s character at the start of the film as he calls 911 to get help for a suicide: his own. The script then plays around with the timeline a little, and we gradually learn what has led him to this moment in his life.
The film takes quite a long time to settle down, and features Smith as an IRS inspector who varies between nice bloke and total shit, as he continues to ‘test’ people. But eventually, it settles down to focus more on his relationship with Dawson’s character. The problem is that the script labours this and does neither Smith nor Dawson any favours at all. It’s not a relationship you really buy, nor are particularly interested in watching.
And then the film builds up to its ending. I won’t spoil it here, but once I realised where Seven Pounds was going, it took resolve on my part not to get down on my hands and knees and beg it not to do it. It’d been a drab film, borderline dull, to that point, and the ending drags it down yet another star. Don’t they have script readers to weed out things like that?
On the plus side, the photography is genuinely stunning at times, and those aforementioned performances valiantly try and lift the film out of the mire. But it’s, ultimately, a wasted effort. Seemingly too concerned with wooing award votings and less with sorting out the film’s foundations, those concerned can surely class Seven Pounds as a major misfire. A pretty terrible movie.
The DiscYou never expect people in extra features to come out and say that they were disappointed with the end result, but the various talking heads who pop up here are borderline delusional. One by one in the Seven Views On Seven Pounds featurette, they turn up to congratulate themselves on a job well done. Surely someone in the room should have called bullshit?
Director Gabriele Muccino then lends an earnest commentary track, but not a very interesting one, while there are featurettes too that range from the interesting (quite liked the one on the jellyfish), to the less interesting (creating an ensemble firmly fits here). There are a few minutes of deleted scenes, too, but nothing compelling to find. The high definition presentation is very good throughout, to be fair. The jellyfish in particular look marvellous.
But it’s all polishing, and unsuccessful polishing at that. No matter how well put together the Seven Pounds package is – and it’s not too bad, if hardly outstanding – the problem lies in the main feature itself. And that, sadly, makes the whole enterprise utterly avoidable.
The Film:The Disc: