I didn’t want to write this movie off on the reviews and critics in the western world, I mean how wrong have they been about Asian cinema that has now become a staple diet of the Hollywood remake monster? Plus Jet Li is pretty damn cool, and he’s made some interesting movies in Asia. So with an open mind I was surprisingly averaged out by this movie.
There are good points. The story is very clever, using M-Theory as a base to bring forward the plot that there are multiple universes each with their own versions of worlds, and most likely you. Each time one of you is destroyed the rest share the energy and power amongst them. The idea that someone might try and purposely become the only version of themselves in all the Universes to find out if they become a God.
There’s also Jet Li, and he’s not a bad actor and pretty nimble as a martial artist, plus Jason Statham who is an all round good actor. As for the special effects, some of them are really cool, a mixing of bullet time, and slow motion with normal speed, very cool to watch in places.
The bad points? Well Statham’s accent is appalling, and some of the effects aren’t as comparable as others, so it’s quite apparent that money was spent on some of the main shots and not on others that were probably deemed as too short on screen or they just plain ran out of budget.
A big sore point for me is the close cropped camera action that Hollywood has long favoured, something that Jackie Chan has often talked about. Filming fight scenes close up serves two purpose. It gives greater emphasis on a single punch or movement, making it look harder and more real than it really is, and it also hides what is going on around the camera lens. For example people holding a fake arm or the face of a stunt double, etc.
What Chan always said was that he tried to open out the camera and show the audience what was going on, let them see the people fighting properly rather than a close up of a face and a fist, cutting to someone falling into frame. Showing the whole picture is more effective, and it’s more impressive.
So the close cropped shots were just more annoying than anything, you failed to see the impressiveness of Li’s fighting skills, and you found it hard to see some of the action. Slow the cuts down and pan out the camera Hollywood Directors!
The biggest problem was the story though, despite having such a strong base on which to build, they seemed to loose the sense of the plot and concentrate on the action scenes. For instance the whole idea of the plot, as I’ve said above, and the fact that the bad character may not really be that bad, just wanting to seek out the truth of becoming The One is just skimmed over and totally lost. They briefly mentioned the origin of the story, but it was nothing more than a few lines in dialogue.
Also hidden in there is the relationship between the main Multiverse Cop and the bad character, they seem to have met many times before and it hints in the dialogue that he even let him kill the other hims. Again, unexplored.
It just all held together too weakly, and not enough was made of the story. All in all, not a great movie and it’s potential was badly spoiled.