Why does Samuel L Jackson seem to delight in making appalling films? We’ve been subjected to Snakes on a Plane, Lakeview Terrace, and now this mess of a production.
The Spirit of the title, played with little charm or charisma by Gabriel Macht, is a virtually indestructible superhero who is closer in character to all-American DC Comic book saviours like Superman than to the noir antiheroes on which he has been modelled. He has vowed to protect ‘his’ city, which seems to involve splashing around in the mud and throwing bizarrely misplaced objects like toilets at his arch nemesis, The Octopus (Samuel L Jackson). The Octopus has some ludicrous plan to become immortal (or possibly more immortal, he seems to be fairly resilient as it is!) and of course The Spirit must stop him. On his mission he encounters a host of beautiful vixens, all of whom are drawn to him for some inexplicable reason—I mean he’s not even that good looking and has the personality of a damp rag, and these women include Eva Mendes, Scarlett Johansson, Jaime King and Sarah Paulson.
This film feels like a minor chapter from Sin City which was omitted from the final cut due to the appalling dialogue, lack of story and its sheer awfulness. I was disappointed not only by this film, but by the fact the Frank Miller was blatantly ripping off all the stylistic tricks which he learnt under Robert Rodriguez’s wing when they worked on Rodriguez’s fantastic adaptation of Miller’s graphic novel. Worse than that, Miller does such a bad job of plagiarising his own work that I had to go straight home and watch Sin City to remind myself how well the cartoonish film noir comic book style can work with an experienced director at the helm and a script worth shooting.
One or two sequences (particularly the sunrise blood effect in the Japanese dojo) redeem this film above utter contempt, but it isn’t worth sitting through 2 hours of absurd plotline and appalling dialogue spouted by Hollywood A-listers (who really should know better than to touch this muck with anything less than a ten foot pole) to see these brief glimpses of what could have been, if only they hadn’t decided to shoot the first draft script instead of attempting to polish it into something worth watching.
Extremely disappointing: avoid it!