Seven Pounds is one of those movies that seemed to hit the theaters and pass by virtually undetected, save for a number of negative reviews from a nation full of jaded critics who must have been anticipating another overrated futuristic science fiction/action flick starring Will Smith and a host of CGI creations. In truth, Seven Pounds is nothing like that — it’s a human drama (which makes it a lot better than I Am Legend and I, Robot right there) that centers on the life of one very tortured man who is compelled to change the lives of seven complete strangers, having ruined the lives of seven others in the past.
I can kind of see why the critics were disappointed — the trailer campaign for Seven Pounds almost made the movie look like some sort of spiritual mystery. I myself pegged the film for being such when I glanced at the trailer — and it put me off completely — but after having seen the movie in its entirety, I can proudly say that Seven Pounds is a well-made and emotional film that wasn’t given the respect it deserved.
Will Smith’s acting ability has come a long way since his Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air days, and his performance here as the very distressed and extremely depressed Ben Thomas is indeed a powerful one. Ben’s life was once the wonderful and extravagant life many of us dream of but all that changed one fateful night from which he has never recovered. Now, riddled with guilt and determined to make good on his debt to karma/God/Buddha/kismet or what have you (feel free to enter your own personal belief/deity here), Ben is ready to give seven complete strangers something that will change their lives forever.
Seven Pounds marks the reunion of actor/producer Smith and Italian director Gabriele Muccino, and the chemistry that was present in their previous collaboration, The Pursuit Of Happyness, is just as strong here as it was before. Of course, any feature that shows a semi-nude Rosario Dawson is good in my book, but for once, she’s more than just a sexy bod with a pretty face: this time, she’s an actual character, too — and the scenes between Will and Rosario are quite good. Unfortunately, the remaining supporting cast’s performances have been trimmed down to something resembling sporadic cameo appearances, and the parts played by Woody Harrelson (as a blind vegan meat salesman named Ezra), Michael Ealy (as Ben’s confused brother), and Barry Pepper (as Ben’s lawyer friend) seem to have frittered away in post-production (still, the movie already has a 123-minute runtime, so it probably had to be done).
On DVD, Seven Pounds succeeds admirably with a great 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer; the colors and contrasts are crisp and clear, and the image looks great as a whole. Accompanying the picture are two 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtracks: one in English and the other in French. The 5.1DD English track really didn’t manage to “wow” me, as it seemed that most of the sound was reserved for the front speakers but the mix is still a good one, so I’m not complaining. Optional subtitles are available in English, French, and Spanish.
Bonus materials here consist of an audio commentary with director Muccino; featurettes "Seven Views On Seven Pounds" (31:35), "Creating The Perfect Ensemble" (12:56), "The Box Jellyfish: World’s Deadliest Co-Star" (4:58), "Emily’s Passion: The Art Of The Printing Press" (8:44); and four deleted scenes (totaling 4:14 altogether) which don’t offer a whole lot in the way of story, but they do include the brief scene of Weeds actor Andy Milder as a doctor questioning Smith that was seen in the preview of the film. Lastly in the way of special features are several trailers and promos for other Sony-released titles.
Although the movie is predictable, owes more than just a passing nod to both Charles Dickens and William Shakespeare, and is also rather contrived here and there, Seven Pounds is nevertheless a lot better than most of Will Smith’s other (extremely horrid) projects such as I Am Legend, I, Robot, and the Bad Boys films. Oh, and Wild Wild West too, and the Men In Black series… not to mention that Independence Day flick… oh, that poor guy…
Overall, I thought that this was a very decent movie that, despite being a bit too Hollywood-ish and routine, still possessed a lot of heart (no pun intended) and definitely deserves a second chance.