Pros: A beautiful story, with a wonderful message and terrific performances.
Cons: Unravels extremely slowly.
It moved so slowly at first, I nearly turned it off. But I'm glad I stuck with it, as I ended up really enjoying it. And now that it's over, and as I continue to think about it, I find myself liking it more and more. I'm referring to Seven Pounds, Will Smith's movie about redemption.
Despite the fact that it's over a year old, I'm going to assume that readers of this review have not seen this movie, and have no idea what it's about. That's the best way to come into this movie. I knew almost nothing about it prior to viewing it; as a result I got to work out "the mystery" for myself, and enjoyed doing so. My plot synopsis, therefore, will be very sketchy. Forgive me if it seems lacking, but you'll thank me for not spoiling it, if you decide to watch this movie.
Will Smith plays Ben Thomas. We know very little about him at the start of this movie. All we know is that he's about to commit an act that will change his life forever. From that point on, the movie shows us, through flashbacks, how Ben arrived at this place. In fact, the movie jumps among various timelines with very little indication given to the viewer. This makes it quite difficult, at first, to figure out what's going on. But, eventually you figure out that we're watching Ben go about his business as an IRS agent, with an "extra" agenda. It seems that as he meets clients during his work, he's evaluating their internal "goodness". And, if he deems them "worthy", he helps them out, in various ways. Is he a simple do-gooder? A modern-day Santa Claus? Or is there more to this story than meets the eye? That's the "mystery" presented to the viewer.
That's all the plot you're going to get from me.
But I will tell you that this movie is clever. As long as you pay attention, remember details, and stick with it until the end. Everything that was unclear to me going along was eventually explained. And as clues dropped into place, I found myself completely mesmerized.
I seem to end up liking Will Smith movies, and this one is no exception. His performance in this role was perfect. He was called upon to show so many different emotions, and Will handles them all flawlessly. There is also a terrific performance from Rosario Dawson, who plays Ben's love interest. There was a sweet chemistry between them that seemed very real to me. Woody Harrelson and Barry Pepper also have small but very important roles in this movie. In summary, the cast was outstanding.
My only complaint is that the movie moves s-l-o-w-l-y. Not only is the action slow to get started, but its rate of information-sharing is hideously slow. So you spend an awful lot of time wondering what is actually going on, and when the movie is ever going to pick up speed, and start making sense. During all of this time, the movie was horribly dull. As a result, I suspect that many viewers will walk out. Or, they'll simply check out, stop paying attention, and be left questioning what they just saw. I'm so glad I stuck with this movie, as there was a tremendous payback, but I can well understand anyone who didn't. And that's a really a shame. At just over two hours, a movie that concludes this well shouldn't lose people during the first hour.
Overall, I thought this movie was beautiful, with a message that brought tears to my eyes. Even the title is perfect, once you understand it. I recommend this movie, with the caveat that you must deal with a dull, slow start. But stick with it, you'll be glad you did.
Happy to be Lean-n-Mean!