The buzz around The Green Hornet in no way resembles the many previous incarnations. In its seven decades old various sighting – from radio and comics to the big and small screen and back again – the latest Green Hornet, perhaps the most radical makeover of all, is more slapstick than sting, and less masquerading noir crime fighter than deluded cartoonish geeky avenger.
Masterminded by star and co-screenwriter Seth Rogen and director Michel Gondry (The Flight Of The Conchords, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), this Hornet retains the basic details of the original, then takes flight from Detroit to LA and into wildly uncharted territory. Seemingly referencing both Tarantino’s comedy of cruelty and Tom and Jerry.
The wacky proceedings begin in the future free-lance vigilante’s misbehaving boyhood, as Britt Reid is scolded by his stern newspaper publisher tycoon father (Tom Wilkinson) for getting into scrapes with bullies at school. In fairly rapid succession, Dad beheads the sulking kid’s Superman action figure in a fit of his own rage, and himself expires from a bee sting twenty years later.
By now, Britt has morphed into a slacker rich kid party animal and shameless womanizer who as the sole heir, is suddenly stuck with running his deceased dad’s newspaper, The Daily Sentinel. A morning coffee purist, Britt bonds with Kato (Jay Chou, reprising Bruce Lee’s stint), the staff servant he’s just fired and then rehired because the guy really knows how to brew an amazing cup of hi-tech java. Not to mention his combat skills that the inept Britt coopts as a cover to advance his essentially nonexistent evolving legendary creds.
With Kato as sidekick chauffeur and martial arts mop-up man about town, Britt is intent on cleaning up the LA streets as a self-declared undercover superhero. Including running interference on Chudnofsky (Inglorious Basterds’ Christoph Waltz), a local Russian mob wiseguy with neurotic self-esteem hangups. Who in turn is bent on committing insecticide against this mystery vigilante interloper. Then there’s Cameron Diaz as Leonore Case, the way too off on the sidelines high IQ secretary boasting male magnet assets and a mean right hook.
With a style favoring special effects flash over substance, The Green Hornet drones on a bit too long. And could have certainly used more pest control on the part of Gondry, and his intermittently amusing but attention deficit disorder, busy as a bee unfocused approach to filmmaking.
2 [out of 4] stars