Seven Pounds reunites Will Smith with his The Pursuit of Happyness director Muccino in a tale that, while different, retains a similar level of emotional power. Or, rather, wants to but generally fails. It's certainly not a failure and I certainly don't want to undermine Smith's commitment to the role (he's rarely been better), nor is it a criticism of the supporting cast; quality character players like Pepper, Harrelson and Smitrovich plus the ever reliable Dawson being generally adorable and beautifully understated. It's more a reflection on the plot.
Seven Pounds is an enigmatic film, one of those well-shot tales that won't reveal its content. The effect is initially intriguing – Smith plays Ben Thomas, an Inland Revenue man with a mysterious plan. At the start of the film, Ben calls 911 and reports his own suicide before Muccino whisks the viewer into a glossy tale of redemption and Ben's hidden past. The problem is that the twists rapidly become pretty obvious. You might not guess the specific details or the depth of Ben's plan, but the general gist? You'll probably get it within minutes.
During the final hour, as the lengths Ben's gone to get revealed – and in some cases unravel – Seven Pounds is a good-looking, unusual romance with hidden depths (and a highly original suicide method). The first hour though? About one third as fascinating as Muccino appears to think it is and frequently just plain dull. That's a crying shame as Smith acts his knitted footwear off and, with a little more quality control, this could have been a resonant emotional journey. Instead, you'll have to file under melodrama. Decent enough melodrama, to be sure, but melodrama all the same.
EXTRAS *** An audio commentary with the director, Gabriele Muccino; interviews with several of the creative team behind the film, collected together as Seven Views on Seven Pounds; a featurette on Creating the Perfect Ensemble; a fascinating featurette on The Box Jellyfish: World's Deadliest Co-star; a featurette on Emily's Passion: The Art of The Printing Press; four deleted scenes; and half a dozen trailers (two of them for other Will Smith films).