Anthony's Film Review
Seven Pounds (2008)
Dull and disappointing, all because of an unevenly written script...
Seven Pounds could have been a good drama film, but unfortunately, it doesn't deliver enough. It behaves mysteriously with the audience. In fact, too mysteriously. Imagine a movie that is supposed to make you guess the unknown but gives you too little information to make any kind of guess. In addition, the movie focuses too much on one thing and not another. It leaves you confused about where the story will go. Eventually, the film explains everything but only at the very end. If this kind of movie does not sound appealing to you, then go ahead and skip Seven Pounds.
But if you're still curious, here's how the movie goes.
IRS agent Ben Thomas (Will Smith) is emotionally disturbed. In the first shot, he talks about suicide, which establishes the mystery of the film. In the next scene, he is on the phone with a meat salesman (Woody Harrelson) but soon lashes out against him. The film proceeds with Ben auditing individuals with late payments, starting with a doctor and a woman named Emily (Rosario Dawson) who has a congenital heart condition. In both cases, Ben steps beyond his IRS duties. He appears to be judging the other person to decide if he or she truly deserves help.
At this point, the film presents its first problem. The setup is missing. There is something underlying Ben's emotions and his mission to help others. But what is it? Did something unfortunate happen to him? Did he do something horribly wrong? These questions linger throughout most of the film. There may be one or two tiny hints to the mystery along the way, but these moments are too quick. Otherwise, there are more drawn-out scenes of Ben trying to seek more people. It does become clear that Ben intends to aid a total of seven individuals.
Afterwards, the film's second problem comes out. It does not pay equal attention to all seven beneficiaries. There is a somewhat interesting scene with one of the seven characters. In contrast, five of the others are given little to no screen time for the rest of the movie. This leaves Emily as the main focus. As Ben spends personal time with her, the film becomes a long romantic drama. It's almost as if the film has forgotten what it's supposed to be about. At this point, the only thing that matters is the film reaching its conclusion.
After a slow one hour and 45 minutes, the last 15 minutes answer all the questions posed since the film started. The moments are both a relief from uncertainty and, unexpectedly, an emotional ride. The ending is actually quite good, even though it's the only positive thing about the film. Among the people I watched this movie with, some forgave the slow pace because of the ending. Others still disliked the movie despite the powerful ending. I put myself in the latter category. It would be too generous to recommend Seven Pounds just because of the ending.
Seven Pounds has a nice cast but it still suffers because of a flawed script. It should have planted more hints about the main character's psychological state, just so we could have something to anticipate. It should also have given more equal screen time to all seven people in Ben's list. In my opinion, the film does have the elements to make itself work. It just didn't use them all wisely. The end result is that Seven Pounds does not carry enough weight to be worth seeing.
For more information about Seven Pounds, visit the Internet Movie Database.