Plot summary (with possible spoilers): Seven Pounds opens with Ben Thomas (played by Will Smith) calling 911 from his motel room. Send an ambulance, he says. There’s been a suicide. When the operator asks who the victim is, Ben responds that he is — which of course leads to the requisite flashbacks to show the audience just how Ben came to that point.
We next see Ben visiting various folks in his capacity as an IRS agent. Instead of wanting to audit them, however, he seems more interested in the hardships they’re facing in their lives and claims that he can help them. But first he has to “make sure” that they’re truly nice, generous folks who are actually worth being saved. Among the candidates are Ezra Turner (Woody Harrelson), a blind call center employee who maintains his cool even when Ben deliberately baits him, and Emily Posa (Rosario Dawson), a greeting card printer who suffers from a heart condition and whose wait for a donor is lengthened by her rare blood type.
As Ben interacts with these people, the audience senses that something’s wrong with him, but the filmmakers decided to withhold this information to make the whole thing a “mystery”. Does he suffer from a terminal illness? Does he have a God complex? Is he looking to redeem himself for some past wrong? We don’t find out until the very end.
Once we make it back to the opening scene of the 911 call, we then follow Ben as he immerses himself in a bathtub filled with ice water — and a single jellyfish. He lets the jellyfish sting him, and the poison quickly does its job. We later learn that Ben’s organs end up benefiting seven different people, his way of atoning for the seven lives he took when he caused an accident because he was driving while texting.
My Reaction: Wow, what a long, tedious, boring movie Seven Pounds was! I usually expect great things from Will Smith, but have been severely disappointed in his last three offerings (Pursuit of Happyness, Hancock, and now this catastrophe). There were so many reasons why this film didn’t work, but the biggest one was the fact that the writers didn’t give the audience any reason to sympathize/empathize with Smith’s character. Because I didn’t know what the hell he was doing, I didn’t really care what he was up to.
This was obviously a calculated risk on the filmmakers’ part. They probably thought they could create suspense and tension, and then a big shock at the end when they finally revealed the big secret. I guess that could work in some cases, but it certainly doesn’t here. We needed to know what was going on with this character so we could root for him along the way. Instead, he came off like a creepy stalker freak most of the time, and I never once became interested in what he was doing.
And how about that suicide scene? I might have dozed off and missed the explanation (if there was one), but why in god’s name did he have to commit suicide via a freakin’ jellyfish? Was there a point to that? Or was that simply a plot device to make viewers say, “Wow, how original!”. More like, how ridiculous.
Overall, I thought Seven Pounds was one of the weakest films I’ve seen in a long time. I didn’t find any aspect of it to be entertaining or worthwhile, not the acting, not the message, nothing…. I give it 1 star out of 5.