In the action comedy The Green Hornet, Seth Rogen takes the word “antihero” to a new level; in fact, his character is so far from heroic that he relies on his mechanic sidekick to trick out his car and do the majority of the fighting.
Rogen is Britt Reid, a playboy newspaper heir who is more comfortable as a subject of gossip articles than the editor of news columns. But when his father dies and his mourning finds him hanging out in bad parts of the city, Reid rises from the depth of disinterest to try to infiltrate and eliminate the city’s crime syndicate. He teams with his father’s mechanic Kato (John Chou), a karate and weapons expert, to back him up.
The story – orphaned rich kid turns caped crusader – is good enough that it’s worked in other incarnations (cough Batman cough), so it’s a bit of a surprise that most of The Green Hornet falls flat. Rogen, who co-wrote the movie, relies on the flash of Kato’s karate and their souped-up car to distract from the lack of plot, which unfolds so abruptly and late into the movie that Christoph Waltz is left with little to do as the film’s unimpressive villain. Cameron Diaz is likewise wasted as a throwaway love interest and occasional advancer of the plot. The script does manage to save itself with some self-aware jokes, including a gag where the villain brings a gas mask to guard himself from the Hornet’s knockout gun and one of his conspirators asks why there weren’t more for the rest of the den of thieves.
In many ways, The Green Hornet comes out at just the right time: with the sheen worn off of Tron: Legacy and no significant blockbusters coming behind it, Hornet is the only popcorn movie available to moviegoers this awards season. But being able to keep your attention for a few hours is the least the movie can do, and aside from a good looking car here and a few laughs there, it can’t do much more than just that.
*** of 5