Barry Pepper, Woody Harrelson, Michael Ealy, Elpidia Carillo
- Rated PG-13
- Buy the DVD
All photos © Sony Pictures
Reviewed by David Medsker
nyone with a cynical bone in their body is going to have a field day with a movie like “Seven Pounds,” and with good reason. There is a spirit of selflessness and atonement desperately trying to break through the source material…so why does it feel self-absorbed instead? Blame the non-linear nature of the script, which tries to show us nothing but tells us everything.
Will Smith is Ben Thomas, an auditor for the IRS who examines his clients rather closely. Ben is a strong believer in karma, and he will exact swift and merciless punishment on anyone he believes to be cheating the system. His work brings him into the lives of blind phone representative Ezra (Woody Harrelson), a hockey coach (Bill Smitrovich), and the lovely Emily (Rosario Dawson), who has a heart of gold and, ironically, a bum ticker. Ben goes above and beyond his job’s parameters to help anyone he deems worthy of it, but not for the reasons that they suspect.
And that is pretty much all I can say without spoiling the movie. It seems rather hypocritical that the onus of not blowing a movie’s Big Secret is placed on the press, especially when the filmmakers waste no time giving the game away well before the audience is officially supposed to know what is going on. (The marketing department, meanwhile, gave up the goods in a matter of seconds in the movie’s online trailer.) The signs are laid out before you in the first 20 minutes. From there, you have to wait another 100 minutes to see precisely how it all plays out. It gets rather tedious waiting for everything to come together, as you might imagine.
You can see why Smith was drawn to the part of Ben. It’s unlike anything he’s played in a long time, and yet it’s exactly like everything he’s done these past few years. (It’s not a Will Smith movie unless everyone idolizes him when the credits roll.) The problem is that Ben has circumstances, but not much depth; he puts up a wall whenever anyone asks him about himself, and in the process he puts up a wall between himself and the audience. When the big finale finally drops, frankly, it’s hard to care.
One wonders if there is a linear-timeline cut of “Seven Pounds” somewhere in Columbia’s vault, one that fleshes out Ben’s back story and doesn’t try to be so mysterious about its intentions (to a point, anyway). This isn’t the kind of movie that needs a gimmick in order to work; it needs weight, something the subject matter has in spades. They would have been better served by keeping it simple.
Single-Disc DVD Review:
Dramas traditionally don't sport many extras, and "Seven Pounds" is no exception. There are a handful of deleted scenes, only one of which has some meat on the bones (a doctor confronts Ben about his intentions). There is a featurette about casting the movie, individual bits on the perspectives of seven different people involved with the production, and two other pieces on the box jellyfish and printing presses. Director Gabriele Muccino also contributes an audio commentary.