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Seven Pounds (2008)

Seven Names. Seven Strangers. One Secret.

Directed by:

Gabriele Muccino

Rating: 8/10

Running Time: 123 minutes

US Certificate: PG-13 UK Certificate: 12A

So, I went in to Seven Pounds totally blind save for the teensy bit of information I’d garnered from the commercials. I knew there was a secret of some sort, and that this Will Smith was more The Pursuit of Happyness, less Independence Day. That was about it, though, and I must admit I’m glad to have been so ill-informed and naïve.

Here’s what I can tell you. Ben Thomas (Smith) is an IRS agent on some sort of secret mission. Haunted by something from his past, Ben is scouring the IRS files, looking for “good people” that meet some sort of arbitrary criteria, saying that he has the power to change their lives drastically. Along the way, he meets money-strapped heart patient Emily Posa (Rosario Dawson), and try as he might, Ben can’t resist her charms. Only problem is, falling in love isn’t part of his plan, and as everything starts to unravel around him, Ben is forced to make decisions he thought he’d already made and come to terms with the consequences of his choices.

I gotta say now that there are some blazingly obvious, cavernous plot holes in this film, and that, even though I myself didn’t see a lot of the outcome coming, most people I’ve spoken to did. Also, I get the whole thing about keeping everything mysterious, but for awhile, the flashbacks and present times and flash forwards all seemed a tad jumbled and confusing—could’ve done with a little less cryptic, or maybe just a better method of telling time than studying Ben’s facial hair for clues. That being said, this film should be seen if for no other reason than Smith. He’s not his charming self here—he’s not even the surly but still fun-to-watch jerk from Hancock. This is a different Smith, all unsure and haunted. He doesn’t overdo it, but there are times where his face says it all—even though, for most of the film, you’re not exactly sure what it’s saying. Dawson is a believable love interest, and her vulnerability in some of the hospital scenes actually got me. There are a few laughs here and there, and definitely some moments that bring out a cheer, but this is a tough watch for a lot of reasons, and it’ll make you think. Shrouded in an air of mystery, the plot is both obvious and surprising, and to say too much doesn’t necessarily ruin it like learning the twist in an M. Night Shyamalan film, but there is something to be said for not trying to figure it all out. Just watch.

It's Got: A fine performance by Will Smith and a great cameo from Woody Harrelson.

It Needs: A little less of the time warp in the beginning.

Alternatives:

It's a Wonderful Life, Runt, The Pursuit of Happyness

Summary

The high rating is more of a testament to the cast than the story itself—it’s decent, but Will Smith brings an extra level to this not-so-feel-good film.

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