Seven Pounds (2008)

DVD Cover (Sony Home Entertainment)
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Overall Rating 76%
Overall Rating
Ranked #499
...out of 14,074 movies
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Haunted by a secret, Ben Thomas looks for redemption by radically transforming the lives of seven people he doesn't know. Once his plan is set, nothing will be able to stop him. At least that's what he thinks. But Ben hadn't planned on falling in love with one of these people and she's the one who will end up transforming him. --IMDb
Review by bluemeanie
Added: December 29, 2008
What do you do when you're the biggest movie star on the planet? If your name is Will Smith - whatever the hell you want. And, up until now, it's a move that has worked for the actor time and time again. The man can do no wrong. Just when you think he's attached himself to a dud - i.e. "Hancock" or "Hitch" - he knocks another one out of the park and increases his profile even more. Alas, with "Seven Pounds", Smith might finally have found a way to alienate audiences. Because if you're the number one movie star on the planet, the last thing audiences want to see is a film dedicated to your causing damage to yourself. "Seven Pounds" is that film, a dark and somewhat depressing look at a man seeking redemption with an act that causes much confusion throughout. The film is directed by Gabriele Muccino, who directed Smith in his Oscar nominated performance last year in "The Pursuit of Happyness". Muccino seems at home with heavy handed material and he treats this material very loosely, not really searching for any grounded basis on which to plant a foundation. "Seven Pounds" is a little hamfisted but ultimately succeeds thanks to a fine performance from Will Smith.

As mentioned, Will Smith stars as Ben Thomas, an I.R.S. agent on a mission. You see, Ben did something bad, some people died and now he is wanting to give seven people a gift they will never forget. But what is that gift? It's pretty obvious from the trailer what it is - his organs, for one. Woody Harrelson plays a blind piano player who might be getting Ben's eyes. Bill Smitrovich plays a hockey coach who is getting Ben's kidney. And Rosario Dawson co-stars as Emily Posa, a young printer who is in desperate need of a heart or she faces certain death. Most of the film deals with the relationship that develops between Ben and Emily. She doesn't know what Ben is trying to do - she just knows he is way too accomplished and intelligent to be an I.R.S. agent by choice. We piece together more of the puzzle as Ben and Emily get closer and closer, with Ben's brother chasing him down every step of the way. When the end of the film comes, we are not surprised and there is no twist because the trailer gives everything away. The final ten minutes of the film are a disaster, churning sap into butter and spreading it all over the film negative. "Seven Pounds" was a solid film until the final seven minutes.

I would be lying if I didn't say the story was compelling. Despite seeing all of the plot lines coming from a mile away, the story was interesting. The problem is the film didn't know what position to take tonally. At first, it seems dark and depressing and then it shifts to quirky and upbeat. Is it a love story? A poignant drama? A moody indie? It didn't know. You can't have a character like Ben Thomas do everything he does in the first half of the film as a set up for a romantic comedy - you just can't. And the ending of the film was just bad... plain bad. The whole means by which Smith carries out what he does is ludicrous. The final meeting between Dawson and Harrelson was so steeped in cheese that it might be want a fondue. I have to think this film would have been a much better film with a different ending - maybe one of the better films of the year. The first scene, with Smith talking to Harrelson on the phone, is so promising and really sets the picture up nicely. Unfortunately, it cannot deliver on that terrific set-up.

But don't blame Will Smith. The man turns in the best performance of his career in this film, which is what redeems it ultimately. Smith is utterly believable in an unbelievable role. He carries the emotional weight of the role well and he acts in the way his character would act 100% of the time - very consistent and loyal to the material. Rosario Dawson also delivers a fine supporting performance - one of the best performances of her career also. Smith and Dawson have nice chemistry together and their story was the highlight of the entire picture. I wanted to see a film about them and nothing else. The rest of the performances are average, especially Woody Harrelson, who does nothing with a role that was written to do nothing; still, that is no excuse. Barry Pepper does a decent enough job, but his role is not given nearly enough attention and is therefore lacking. We know there is a back story, but we're not given much more information.

On the whole, I guess I shouldn't be recommending "Seven Pounds". It's cheese of the highest form and it piles it on mighty thick at the end. However, Will Smith continues to show his acting strength and that alone is reason enough to see the film. He has this strange charisma about him and it shines through in a dark and moody movie. If I've spoiled the film for you, I apologize, but the trailer does that well enough without me. The whole 'mystery' behind this film was really no mystery at all, but a failed attempt at releasing a mainstream motion picture without plot spills. I guess they thought we would never assume the obvious. "Seven Pounds" can wait until it hits your local dollar theatre or DVD - don't worry about catching it before awards season. If it deserves any nomination, it's Will Smith for Best Actor, but it's still a stretch.

Tristan #1: Tristan - added 12/29/2008, 01:28 PM
6/10 seems very fitting. I enjoyed the movie - mainly because Smith was phenomenal, as always - but I really didn't care much for the characters or anyone involved. There were too many smaller roles thrown in - Pepper and Harrelson, for example - that could have had a backstory but were never touched upon. It just seemed like a clusterfuck of ideas that wrapped up into a cheesy, Hollywood ending. Nothing against Smith, but this was just a bit of a borefest.

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