December 19, 2008

Seven Pounds ending

The trailers and ads for the new Will Smith movie, Seven Pounds, are about as vague and ambiguous as for any film in recent memory. The most you can get out of them is that Smith feels bad about something, wants to help certain people, and supposedly has the power to do so.

So the anticipation going into the film is obviously to find out what the big secret is and how said secret influences the plot as a whole. The only problem is that Smith and director Gabriele Muccino (who also directed Smith in The Pursuit of Happyness) take their sweet time letting the audience in on the mystery. The first half of the film consists of multiple scenes of Ben (Smith) at various points of time, though the film flashes backward and forward so often that it's often difficult to figure out exactly when or where he is.

Ben most often introduces himself as an IRS agent, but there's also a brief scene showing him seemingly in charge of a meeting at an aeronautical firm. Brief snippets show him with a very pretty woman who appears to be a girlfriend/wife, but then later he shows more-than-normal interest in Emily (Rosario Dawson). He also makes mysterious angry calls to his brother (Michael Ealy) and a man named Ezra (Woody Harrelson), with whom he seems to have only a passing acquaintance. And that's not to mention meetings with Dan (Barry Pepper) that always seem to end with Ben saying, “Do what you promised.”

Listen, I'm gonna do a big favor for you, but I can't tell you for another two hours.

Eventually things settle down to the point that Ben is focusing most of his attention on Emily, who is dealing with issues of her own, including owing back taxes, which is how Ben comes into her life. He spends an inordinate amount of time around her for an auditor, though, so it's clear early on that he has something deeper in mind. What that is, however, remains hidden until the end of the film.

Vagueness and ambiguity often work well in trailers and ads because they serve to heighten people's interest in a movie. But when it comes to the film itself, keeping an audience in the dark for much of the running time leads to frustration, not anticipation. Muccino and first-time screenwriter Grant Nieporte seem to have no sense of this, stringing the audience along with a plethora of bite-sized clues. There's so much going on and so many different characters in the first half of the film that it's next to impossible to make heads or tails of it all.

So it's with equal frustration that Muccino and Nieporte drop heavy-handed clues around the midway point that all but telegraph exactly where the story is heading. The signs are so clear so as to almost negate the impact of the ending, as the general gist (minus details) has been clear for some time.

Dawson looking luminous, though that's a rarity for her character.

Smith is a good actor and does well when given the right material. He doesn't do a poor job, but his character is so one-note for much of the film that he doesn't get an opportunity to stretch. It doesn't help that much of his communication is made via cell phone, so there's no one else to play off of. Dawson helps keep the film going when it threatens to get too caught up in its secrets; she deserves another chance at a romantic role.

It appears that Smith, Muccino, and Nieporte believe that a big “twist” ending in Seven Pounds is more than sufficient to satisfy an audience after two hours of teasing them. But when the first half is so confusing and the ending is virtually given away well before it happens, you've greatly overestimated how good your film is.

Source: Pegasus News

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