While the original series took itself fairly seriously, this new version for 2011 plays as much more of an action comedy. The film stars A-list comedic actor Seth Rogen as our titular hero, millionaire playboy Britt Reid, alongside the fantastic Jay Chou as his sidekick Kato. The Green Hornet and Kato decide that they will pose as villains, so that they can fight organized crime from the inside out. Unbeknownst to them, all of the crime in LA is run by one man- Benjamin Chudnofsky (Christoph Waltz); an megalomaniacal Russian gangster who just wants to be feared and respected. Thus, plot ensues, as The Green Hornet and Kato do their best to take down Chudnofsky and make the world a better place.
The movie felt like it was trying to be too many different things at once. It wanted to be part superhero-action-movie, but it also clearly wanted to be a buddy-comedy-movie. In a way, the audience is getting it’s first real taste of a superhero bro-mance comedy; which is actually kind of awesome. It’s kind of like an amalgamation of Pineapple Express and Kick-Ass with a little dash of James Bond thrown in for good measure. When the film works, it really works well; but there are quite a few plot holes and it feels overall clumsy.
Rogen, who also co-wrote the film with Evan Goldberg, comes off as a very natural Britt Reid; a generally likeable guy that clearly wants to do good but is just too lazy to try. His father dies rather early in the film, setting off a short lived chain of events that lead to Britt deciding that he wants to become a hero; although not for the reasons you’d think. While many comic book films try to be dark and brooding revenge stories, The Green Hornet is largely based in a world of mild realism. Britt Reid doesn’t decide to become a superhero to avenge his father’s death, he decides to become a superhero because he has the time, he has the money, and it seems like a cool thing to do at the moment. Rogen plays the role he’s written himself into perfectly.
The real star of the film is Jay Chou’s Kato, being superior to Rogen’s Hornet in every way imaginable. Early on Chou said that he didn’t want to try to be Bruce Lee, he wanted to do his own take on Kato, and he succeeded in a grand style by making Kato the most enjoyable part of the film. Kato is more or less a ’human Swiss Army knife’; just when you think he can’t get any better, he does something amazing. The action sequences filmed in ‘Kato-Vision’ were easily the best part of the movie, and almost make you forget how unnecessary re-rendering the film into 3D was. Cameron Diaz also makes an appearance as an uninteresting and vastly unneeded love interest. As much as the writers tried to make her a necessary part of the story, she just felt like she was in the way most of the time and didn’t quite fit the role she was meant to fill.
Christoph Waltz’s villain Chudnofsky felt very under used and mildly underdeveloped. Waltz seemed like he was trying to perform his character from Inglorious Basterds, except, you know, as less of a Nazi. He came off sort of like ‘Hans Landa light‘, which isn‘t really that great. He clearly had a lot of fun in the role, as you can tell from the first scene he appears in (also featuring an unaccredited cameo by James Franco!), but he came off as just a little too campy; though I will say that his double-barrel pistol was one of the coolest realistic movie weapons I’ve seen in recent years. The fault can’t entirely be placed upon Christoph Waltz though; he did what he could with the role that was written. Initially the role was written for Nicolas Cage, but Cage bowed out at the last minute and Waltz stepped in to fill the role as best he could.
As a whole, the film is pretty enjoyable and entertaining. If you’re a fan of buddy comedies or action movies, The Green Hornet will likely hit the right notes for you. I’d definitely say to check the film out at some point, although I would also recommend passing on the 3D option; it doesn’t add anything to the film and is in no way worth the extra cost.