Short version: Hey, it’s a Will Smith movie so you’ll WANT to like it – but despite a moving ending, Seven Pounds overstays its welcome.
Screen Rant reviews Seven Pounds
OK, I get what they were trying to do in Will Smith’s latest film Seven Pounds… I really do. And it’s not a bad concept at all – in fact I thought it was very interesting. The problem is that over the course of two hours I felt like I had been beaten to a pulp by the idea.
The big thing with this movie is that no one knows what it’s a about – the trailer is intentionally vague and there’s a reason for that. It’s a sort of mystery, where you spend most of the movie wondering:
A. What has he done that is torturing him so.
B. What exactly is he doing for these people he’s sought out.
I’ll only go over the plot very vaguely since I don’t want to spoil any of the mystery. The film opens up with Ben Thomas (Will Smith) on the phone to 911. He is in a state of high anxiety, and at this point we don’t know where we are in the film as far as the plot (Is it a flashback? Is it taking place in real time, with the entire film’s story to follow?).
From there cut to him at his beach house – again, not a happy guy. He’s on the phone to someone by the name of Ezra Turner (Woody Harrelson), a customer service rep at a meat company. Turns out Ezra is blind, and after a bit of semi-uncomfortable humor Ben really starts to rip into Ezra in a pretty despicable way. Ezra maintains himself and never sinks to Ben’s level, finally hanging up politely.
From there Ben goes on to see a number of people including a young boy with cancer, Emily Posa (Rosario Dawson) who has congenital hear failure, and a couple of other people. He works for the IRS and it’s weird to see him be so friendly with a smile on his face as he sits down to tell people they’re being audited.
There are many flashbacks in the film and in one of them we see that he was not always an IRS agent, but ran an aerospace engineering firm. How he got from there to his present position is one of the mysteries in the film.
Seven Pounds is all about the relationships between Ben and these people, especially Emily. Now it will depend on your outlook as to whether this is an emotionally powerful film or sappy and manipulative. The problem with this movie regardless of which of those points of view you ascribe to is that it’s just too damned long. It clocks in at two hours and the whole point of the film is the mystery, the reveal and the denoument. The thing is if you have half a brain you’ll figure out the “what he’s doing” part of the mystery VERY early on – and from there it will seem like it’s being dragged out for who the director must assume are the less bright members of the audience.
Once I figured it out the movie seemed to drag on and on, beating us over the head with more and more hints that were no longer needed. Not only is what he is up to obvious, but what will happen between him and Ezra as well. Then there’s the issue of Will Smith: He’s proven he’s a great actor, but two hours of him with basically a look of pain on his face was a bit much to take. Rosario Dawson was trying hard, but I think someone else could have done a better job in the role.
As I said, it’s an interesting concept about repentence taken to the extreme – and there won’t be a dry eye in the theater when it’s done… but by the time I got to the end my thought was “thank goodness, it’s about time.”