Review: “Wild Wild West”

Where to begin with this movie. Sure its one of the worst of the year but I’ve seen worse, can’t think of any at the moment except “Jawbreaker”. In any case “Wild Wild West” is sadly a big disappointment considering the great team behind it: All the faults can be tied back to one thing – the script. If it had been only one writer on this I could maybe understand, but at least four writers had a go at it and what we’ve got is a mess. The story is pretty much non-existent – these two agents must ‘work together’ (ANOTHER buddy comedy) to stop the evil Dr. Loveless from assassinating the President.

The story is pretty much explained several times from the getgo, leaving no surprises or twists to be unveiled – in other words very predictable and quite boring. There’s some sub-plot about missing scientists which is mentioned once or twice at the start but seems to vanish after that and not discussed again. The dialogue is average some of the time, and truly horrendous for the rest.

The standard buddy comedy stuff is in there, but pretty much all the jokes just fall flat. There’s a scene where Kline uses a decapitated head to see an image and Smith repeats over and over in shock “That’s a man’s head” – is this supposed to be funny?. There’s also that old standby joke – our very macho heroes dress up as women to witness or do something important undercover, again if its supposed to be funny it ain’t working (though Kline is a surprisingly convincing drag queen).

Finally they’ve resorted to those most lamest and dumb of jokes – racial & disabled remarks. One can’t help but cringe in these scenes, couldn’t they hire a professional comic writer to spruce up the script with some at least halfway intelligent gags – the ones in this film make “Home Improvement” seem like biting satire in comparison. The acting is very plain, nothing particularly awful but not something you’d proudly show on your resume. Smith seems more average than usual, Kline makes a decent sidekick thanks to some nifty gadgets, but the chemistry isn’t there as they’re such bland characters.

Branagh seems to be having fun so he’s watchable (eg. the conference scene where he’s handing out territories from the map), but is a completely non-threatening villain whose only interesting because of his weird facial hair. Hayek is ok considering what little screen time she has, the character really is a waste though and almost magically (and implausibly) reappears at the end. In fact the only one to leave any impression at all is a cameo role from actress Ling Bai as Miss East, Loveless’ head concubine.

Its a shame such good actors are stuck with such limp material and at times you can see them try very hard to make it work – and fail. If there was any compliments to this movie, it would have to go to the FX and design people. There’s some great CG work in this combined with a variety of interestingly designed costumes and mechanical appliances. Then again considering the $160 million budget of course they should be good.

There’s nothing majorly wrong with the visuals of this film, and that really is what the key problem here is – its all style, absolutely no substance. Even poorly written and acted films can be great simply because they’re entertaining, WWW doesn’t fall into that category. To top off the insult of the film itself is one of the dullest opening credit sequences I’ve seen, as well as Will Smith’s annoying rap song title theme at the end. This is definitely NOT how the West was won.