Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Seven Pounds Movie Review

I keep thinking of comically based movies when I think of Will Smith. Movies like Men in Black, Wild Wild West, and Independence Day. More recently, he's been in slightly more serious roles and action roles. I think it's great that he has developed as an actor. Will Smith portrays an amazing dramatic role in Seven Pounds (2008).
Haunted by a secret, Ben Thomas (Will Smith) looks for redemption by radically transforming the lives of seven people he doesn't know. In the process he seeks out Emily Posa (Rosario Dawson) to help resolve her situation with the IRS. Emily has a serious heart problem and is waiting for a donor, but her blood is very rare and her odds are low. Meanwhile Ben seeks out other people to help them in a journey for redemption. Ben hadn't planned on falling in love with Emily, she's the one who will end up transforming him.
Seven Pounds shows us an interesting character that we, the viewers, are not permitted to know very much about. We see that Ben has a plan and already has it well in motion as the movie opens. While Seven Pounds primarily focuses on Ben, by the end of the movie we still don't know a whole lot more about him than we did at the beginning. Why does he check into a cheap hotel? Isn't he paid for his lucrative job? What favor does his lifelong friend Dan (Barry Pepper) owe him? Why exactly is he looking for people who need their own favors? Why after he intuits he is speaking with a blind man (Woody Harrelson) on the phone, is he so needlessly cruel to him, and then follows the same man to restaurant and engage in conversation? For the first half of the movie, Ben is acting according to a plan that makes sense only to himself. He doesn't really have a reason to explain it to himself again, nor does he have a reason to explain it to anyone else. It makes for a curiously enigmatic story, albeit frustrating that we don't know all the details. I don't think it's an indicator of bad writing, simply a different type of storytelling.
Will Smith plays his role extremely well and he displays an impressive range of emotions. Ben is a man who is wracked with guilt and sadness. He can be a tough, merciless IRS man, he can bend the rules in some cases, he can have a romantic candlelight dinner with a beautiful woman, he is angry sometimes, but he seems angriest with himself. It's an amazing performance.
Rosario Dawson is pretty amazing as well. She's trying to make the most of her situation though she isn't expected to live much longer. She's naturally empathetic and manages to keep up with Ben's sometimes bizarre emotional dance, following his lead. Emily is such a sweet character who offers every ounce of charm and care to the one man who seems doomed to deflect it.
It was strange noticing there was very little background music in Seven Pounds. There's almost no subtle ambient music to help amplify the mood and tone of each scene. The emotional tension is almost exclusively left to the actors. That should say something about how good the actors are. There's also some shaky camera work as if a camera man is trying to follow the action on foot through a small confining house. It did feel somewhat realistic, but shaky cam isn't necessary here. There wasn't physical action going on that we felt rushed to try to capture on film, it was dialogue driven emotional action.
Overall, I thought Seven Pounds was simply "okay." It tended to be an overwrought sentimental drama that dragged on for longer than was necessary. Sure, there are sweet moments of romance, some interesting plot twists, some great moments of emotional intensity, but painfully slow pacing of the film tended to weaken their impact. The ending will probably leave some viewers in tears and leave others indignant. I wasn't all that invested in the movie and even I teared up a bit. I think this is worth watching only if you enjoy heartfelt dramas of redemption and romantic stories. Otherwise, you'll likely be bored and possibly annoyed by Seven Pounds. In this case, I was in the latter category.

What has been your favorite Will Smith role? Mine is probably Independence Day or I, Robot. Comment below and tell me about yours!


  1. Awesome review. I'm a Will Smith fan myself:p

    1. Why thank you!
      Will Smith really is amazing. From his early starts on Fresh Prince to his contemporary movies; he's just incredible!
      Thanks for your comments!