thepoemzone’s review published on Letterboxd:
as innovative as this film wants to be it still presents to us the saccharine individualist american optimism and ends up as trope-y as your run-of-the-mill american blockbuster. the power of love trumps the "evil" nihilist force, the hero is flawed because of the villain's influence, but most of all the fact that this film dwells in the power of "you can be whatever you want if you dream it" -- an attractive capitalist offer that doesn't pay back well. the ills of the world are attributed to "the evil force" and the main character's workingclassness is painted as a personal failure and is caused by the main character's individual choices. it checks all the boxes of the hero's journey in any big industry superhero movie (which is not to be surprised about since the russo brothers held the roles of co-producers).
it makes me think of asian american cinema as a whole myself. part of the asian american experience is about being torn between two cultures; cultures that are meant to be as objective/subjective as the other. films like the farewell portrays this duality well. however, there is always that slippery slope of demonizing one culture and viewing the other as the absolute truth for a happy life. in the case of this film, and much like other asian american blockbuster films, telling its audience to move forward from "traditionalist backwards bigoted" culture of an asian country and into an optimistic, saccharine, individualist american one. as asian american filmmakers/writers (and asian filmmakers/writers working in america) are we really comfortable trapping ourselves into the demands of american exceptionalism? can you imagine how boundless our work could be if we could divorce ourselves from the shackles of assimilationism, letting us tell our stories the way we want them to be? this film is trying to different but sadly it falls into the pit of its americanness, undoing its little weird quips like hotdogs as fingers.
however michelle yeoh and ke huy quan are fucking amazing in this, so, at least there's that.