Saturday 15 September 2018

Movie Review: Seven Pounds (2008)

A redemption drama and romance, Seven Pounds is fervent but structurally over complicated and slow moving.

Ben Thomas (Will Smith) phones 911 to report his own suicide. In flashbacks, Ben verbally abuses Ezra (Woody Harrelson), a blind call center operator, and uses his IRS credentials to track down multiple people who owe taxes but also appear to have serious medical or social problems. They include Emily (Rosario Dawson), who suffers from a serious heart condition, and Connie (Elpidia Carrillo), a single mom being abused by her boyfriend.

Other flashback snippets show Ben as an aeronautical engineer; enjoying the company of his girlfriend; reliving the trauma of a car crash; having tense conversations with his brother (Michael Ealy); and moving into a motel room. He refuses to give a tax break to seniors' care centre manager Stewart (Tim Kelleher), who is mistreating patients. Ben comforts Emily after a medical scare and a mutual attraction develops, but he remains mysterious and refuses to reveal too much about himself.

After 2006's The Pursuit Of Happyness, Smith reunites with director Gabriele Muccino, and the result is a thick broth of sincerity and self-sacrifice. Although undeniably thought-provoking and debate-inducing, Seven Pounds also unmistakably tries too hard. Through its convoluted structure the film hides plenty from its audience and the jumbled fragments of flashbacks are confusing for the sake of confusion. Unraveling both the why and the what of Ben's actions is a big load for the film to carry, and suggests Muccino did not believe in the inherent strength of the core material.

And maybe that's because beneath the film's well-intended message, the plot holes are massive for what is intended as a grounded soul-searching drama. Seven Pounds skips over the ease with which government agents can be impersonated; transplants administered; families relocated; and vintage machinery repaired.

When the threads of the plot finally start to make sense, the film gains some traction, but then far too much time is invested in the romance between Ben and Emily. Many of the other good deeds Ben commits are treated in almost dismissive morsels, and for a long stretch Seven Pounds transitions from a dramatic story of penance to a straightforward, old-fashioned romance between two damaged individuals.

Will Smith stretches his more serious acting muscles and is suitably dour for most of the film. Rosario Dawson emerges as the emotional centre, and radiates a joyful determination to appreciate life in the face of Emily's seemingly unalterable impending rendezvous with death.

Seven Pounds asks big questions, but though jumbled delivery comes up with only partial answers.

All Ace Black Blog Movie Reviews are here.


  1. We're in the same boat for this one. You summed it all up when you said it tries too hard. It just plods along trying to be deep and ends up as a heavy load to bear for the viewers.

    1. Released on December 19, this one has Oscar Bait plastered on its forehead.


We welcome reader comments about this post.