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The Green Hornet is terrific. Really, it is. It’s certainly not for fans hoping to see a faithful adaptation of the classic pulp character, but it’s a visceral and hilarious ride nonetheless thanks to top-notch work from Seth Rogen, Jay Chou and Michel Gondry.
But, in all honesty, it could have been better. I never expected to say these words, but Christoph Waltz was simply the wrong choice for lead villain Chudnofsky. Not that he was bad by any stretch, just unexciting — and it’s perfectly understandable, too, given that Nicolas Cage, the man who invented crazy, was originally tapped for the role. You can see it in Chudnofsky’s dialogue; the mania, the spontaneity, the outrageous claims… these are all thoughts, comments and actions belonging to a man of Cage’s caliber. Throughout my time with Green Hornet, I kept imagining how much further Cage would have amped up an already excellent cinematic achievement. But perhaps I was wrong — maybe Cage wasn’t the best man to play Chudnofsky.
The New York Times dove headfirst into the movie’s extensive developmental history, which dates back almost two decades with failed adaptations from Kevin Smith and even Gondry himself along the way. Gondry says that for reasons known only to Cage, the actor insisted on using a Jamaican accent as Chudnofsky.
“I was quite relieved when he announced he no longer wanted the part,” said the director.
Cage is the master of wacky ideas; many of them work (see Bad Lieutenant) and many of them don’t. His Jamaican Chudnofsky would have fallen into the latter category. Shave that completely out-of-left-field idea off the table and Cage would have been perfect as Britt Reid’s arch-nemesis. As it stands, Waltz’s version will suit us just fine instead.
Check back later tonight for Adam Rosenberg’s review of The Green Hornet!