Death & taxes

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

If you've seen any of those amazingly ambiguous trailers for Seven Pounds, you may be ready to dismiss it as awards-season fluff, Will Smith's annual Oscar-bid flick. That opaque title doesn't help much, does it?

So what is the movie about and why should you care? Well, I'm not really telling, because it's a surprisingly engaging flick, particularly if you know next to nothing about it.

Smith re-teams with Pursuit of Happyness director Gabriele Muccino to play IRS agent Ben Thomas. Ben has a single-minded focus on his power to change lives. He's a karmic Robin Hood for those he encounters, including terminally ill Emily Posa (Rosario Dawson) and blind salesman Ezra Turner (Woody Harrelson).

Another Oscar nod for Smith seems pretty unlikely, but he scores points for degree of difficulty. I mean, an IRS agent with a heart of gold?

Muccino lays the sap on thick, and sometimes things feel like an entry for the Oprah Movie Club, but the storytelling is also remarkably effective. And after his shameless Pursuit of Happyness, this feels downright restrained.

The enjoyment lies in watching the plot layers come unpeeled. Know too much going in and you'll instead focus on the occasionally cringe-worthy dialogue or awkwardly developed romance.

Seven Pounds is a bit less weighty than it wishes it was, but it's well worthwhile if you're going in blind.

"Seven Pounds"

Opens Friday

Grade: B