When we aren’t using up government resources to try and rescue him from the far reaches of outer space, Matt Damon is capable of a whole lot of things. We’ve seen him rob casinos, fall in love with Liberace, and run really fast from a wildly shaking camera. He’s so good that one of his characters’ names begins with the words “The Talented.”
So why does Matt Damon’s new movie, The Great Wall, seem to be attracting so much controversy? Well, some seem to think that casting a white man to lead a story set in medieval China is a case of white-washing, and that his role could have easily gone to a Chinese actor without changing all that much. But don’t these people know that adding Matt Damon to something automatically makes it better? To illustrate this point, here are seven movies with foreign settings that could be improved with a dosage of Damon.
Park Chan-wook’s Korean revenge thriller centers on Oh Dae-su, a man imprisoned for fifteen years who seeks vengeance on the man who locked him up. Now that sounds like a Bourne movie to me. Replace the great Choi Min-sik with Matt Damon and watch as he breaks out of his cell within minutes. The rest of the movie is exactly the same, except Damon eats his octopus with a fork and knife. Plus the long-take “hammer in the hallway” sequence is incomprehensible under Paul Greengrass’s direction.
A sobering drama about an Iranian couple in the midst of a messy divorce, A Separation is one of the best films of the decade. But maybe it doesn’t have to be such a bummer, you know? Enter Matt Damon as Matt Rimony, the most accomplished marriage counselor in Iran. Over the course of several meetings with Dr. Rimony (let’s say five or so), Simin and Nader feel closer to each other and learn more about themselves and the institution of marriage than they ever had before. A late-movie rush to the airport cements their love for each other, while Dr. Rimony looks on. He gives a soft smile as we fade to credits.
The kids in a Japanese classroom are sent to a remote island and forced to kill each other for sport. The one man who sees this practice as horrifying is Jim Chesterfield, an ordinary guy from Boston who rallies the kids together and gets them to rise up against the Japanese government forcing them into these barbaric practices. Jim, of course, is played by Matt Damon, and over the course of the film, he’ll bond with the kids. And even though he’s the one leading them, perhaps they’ll teach him a thing or two along the way.
This one’s pretty simple. Do you remember The Mummy Returns, and how a giant CGI version of The Rock’s head appeared on a scorpion? It’s basically that, but replace The Rock with Matt Damon, and replace the scorpion with every creature in Pan’s Labyrinth. Those little stick bugs? Each one has Matt Damon’s head. Ofelia’s buddy Faun? It’s Matt Damon with hooves. That one monster with eyes on his hands? His head is Matt Damon’s head, and both of his hands are also Matt Damon’s head.
OK, so you’re one of those people who consider The Raid to be a perfect action movie. And Matt Damon already has his action franchise with the Bourne films. But check this out: The Raid with Damon in the lead role becomes a sequel to We Bought A Zoo. Because after the end of that film (by which time, presumably, a zoo is purchased), Damon’s character gets involved in a police raid and has to rely upon his skills shepherding zoo animals to kick some criminal butt. Think about how agile you would be if you were running from tigers on a daily basis!
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
In this Damonverse version of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, the movie follows two characters named Crouching Tiger and Hidden Dragon. Matt Damon, naturally, plays both of them. You will thrill as you watch Damon fight himself in this martial arts classic, your heart will soar as you see him pull off perfect Mandarin, you will totally believe that Matt Damon belongs in 1700s China. Thanks to the success of this alt-universe Crouching Tiger, the world eagerly anticipates The Great Wall as Damon’s triumphant return to Asian cinema.
Ghost in the Shell
Look, we can all agree that what Ghost in the Shell desperately needs is more white people. It’s the one thing fans are always complaining about! Sure, the filmmakers behind the new remake threw Scarlett Johansson in there to tide people over, but that only goes so far. Where’s Emma Stone? What of Casey Affleck? These people need work too. So let’s throw Matt Damon a bone here. He deserves to be in Ghost in the Shell just as much as Michael Pitt does.
Michael Smith lives in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.