Ben Thomas (Will Smith) calls for an ambulance, telling the operator there has been a suicide: when she asks him who the victim is, he replies that he is. Life wasn't always so grim for Ben, but now he is on a mission after a shocking event in his past, and this involves phoning up a call centre worker, Ezra Turner (Woody Harrelson), and haranguing him over the line about his blindness and lack of social standing. Then it's off to the next stage of his plan, as he has already moved into a motel room and bought a box jellyfish as a pet: what could be possibly be up to?
Hmm, what on Earth? Although if it's not immediately apparent from the opening scene where Ben Thomas (not the Play School presenter) announces he has killed himself, then you should really hand in your membership card of the Sherlock Holmes club for detecting the flippin' obvious. So much faith do the filmmakers have in their climactic twist that they don't appear to have noticed that they have strewn the production with massive clues as to what it is. Grant Nieporte's script doesn't so much have an elephant in the room as a box jellyfish, so when we hear it's the most poisonous creature on the planet, you're set off wondering what its purpose could be.
For about five seconds, if that, and then it's a matter of waiting for the story to catch up to what you have already worked out at the start of the movie, and bear in mind this one lasts a couple of hours. Every so often Ben will introduce himself into some poor soul's life and oh dear, they have something wrong with them, so what could he possibly do to help somebody who needs a new house or eyes to see with or a new heart to replace their defective one? It begins to get ridiculous early on, and never recovers, especially when it takes itself so achingly seriously and moves at a syrupy slow pace which only draws out the plot far longer than it needs to be.
Seven Pounds might have made a nice storyline in a soap opera, but it appears as if everyone here was aiming for Oscar glory, not surprising as the previous collaboration between Smith and director Gabriele Muccino, The Pursuit of Happyness, took much the same tack towards its entertainment. Really it's an update of a Margaret Sullavan weepie, with Rosario Dawson as Emily the terminal patient who is on the donor list for a new heart, but only has six weeks to live unless one appears because she has a rare blood type. How can she be saved? Honestly, it's a puzzle the greatest minds of the Nobel Prize winners couldn't solve.
Only joking, as the spectre of death looms over the film so blatantly that it's absolutely no surprise who it will take and who it will spare, but this is also a tale of sacrifice and guilt, as if one can atone for the other, when if your guilt is powerful enough, not even doing good deeds will erase it from your thoughts. The answer to that, according to this, is incredibly drastic: give up your worldly goods in a "Hi, I'm from the Bible" kind of way, and go as far with that notion as you possibly can. What Ben needed was some kind of counselor to talk some sense into the man: you cannot save the world and even if you did you're so obsessed with self-flagellation that it would not help your peace of mind. We're supposed to feel better because Ben makes others feel better, but by putting himself in a Christ role it looks as if someone, and maybe not only the lead character, is on a serious narcissism trip. Music by Angelo Milli.