Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

So there supposed to be a ‘big secret’ in this movie ‘Seven Pounds’, kind of like the ‘Crying Game’ or one of those other types of movies that your supposed to keep mum on lest you have the FBI beating down your door and carting you away. I don’t know about all of that since my wife leaned over to me and whispered, with 100% accuracy, what she thought the ‘big secret’ was about ten minutes in. So much for the big secret which really should be kind of clear to most anyway, even if you don’t get it right away and spoil it for you like my wife did for us. Regardless, what we have here with ‘Seven Pounds’ is another fine dramatic performance from Will Smith in a very good movie with some seriously suspect moral value.

IRS agent Ben Thomas (Smith) seems to be one miserable ass dude. He lives in fleabag motels and spends most of his time harassing people who are avoiding paying their taxes, among other things. In flashbacks we see Ben in happier times with his lovely fiancé Sarah (Robinne Lee), but those times have long since passed. Now Ben seems to wallow in self pity over some past tragic event which continues to haunt him and he also avoids having any contact with his concerned brother (Michael Ealy) while he does his duty of hunting down tax evaders, such as Emily Posa (Rosario Dawson), who in addition to avoiding paying her taxes is in desperate need of brand new heart since the one she has is about to quit on her.

There are other odd things going in Ben’s life in the periphery such as the way he is unnecessarily mean to the blind meat phone salesperson Ezra Turner (Woody Harrelson), or the promise that he is forcing his longtime childhood friend Dan (Barry Pepper) to honor, a promise which has upset Dan to tears. Ben, in addition to looking like he’s in a constant state of constipation, also seems to have one cheaply made suit to his name and lives in this cities sleaziest apartment, but yet he also has enough money to bless people with some of the most wonderful of gifts. Quite an enigma this Ben Thomas.

Whatever Ben’s plan happens to be goes completely haywire when he gets a little bit too close Miss Posa, which I could’ve told him would happen since I know what she brings to the table with that cute smile, full lips and pretty face. Plus she’s on death’s door which only makes her that much more adorable. But Ben still has a plan that he absolutely, positively has to carry through and he can’t let a little thing love get in the way. Or can he… and therein lies the problem.

Effortlessly directed by Gabrielle Mucino, who also directed Mr. Smith in ‘The Pursuit of Happyness’, ‘Seven Pounds’ is intensely watchable from start to finish, but in discussing the film with people soon after it ended, the problem that some seem to have with ‘Seven Pounds’ is the ‘motivation’ of Ben Thomas if you will. Without ‘giving it away’ which again, I think it’s pretty clear what Ben Thomas is doing fairly early on, certain people in the group I saw the movie with had few, if any issues with the movie itself, just the morality involved in the resolution. This would be a problem with some, including my wife who was seriously troubled by Ben Thomas’ actions since the resolution is essentially the entire movie. Personally I had no such issues but I think it is a testament to Mucino’s direction and Smith’s performance that despite the fact that if pressed, my wife and others would tell you that they didn’t care for the movie due to its subject matter, it still managed to have an effect on them.

Those other issues aside ‘Seven Pounds’ is still an effective, moving dramatic piece with a very good, albeit  dour performance from Will Smith portraying a man who is living in constant emotional pain. Despite the somewhat slow pace of the film it still manages to keep the audience consistently engaged in its narrative largely due to presence of its star who manages to generate empathy for his character despite his somewhat questionable motives. To the benefit of Rosario Dawson, you would think that the introduction of a character who's sickly, gaunt and drawn would bring down a movie that’s already pretty much of a downer, but she manages to infuse hope into a hopeless situation with a warm performance that adds some balance to the miserable existence that the character of Ben Thomas is subjecting us to. I do wonder, as I tend to do... is it a good idea to have sex with a person who’s like number one on the bum ticker donor list? I’m no doctor, but if girlfriend can’t walk her dog without collapsing, I would think that cow-girling is completely out of the question.

I thoroughly enjoyed ‘Seven Pounds’ as a solid, well crafted, and entertaining dramatic piece and yet another fine showcase for the talents of Will Smith. Again, some may have issues with the why and how of the character of Ben Thomas, but this doesn’t stop ‘Seven Pounds’ from being any less of a compelling and moving story.

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