The Green Hornet (12A) **

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Oscar-winning writer-director Michel Gondry has steadfastly refused to compromise his creativity on the big screen.

He has conjured some of the most memorable and offbeat romantic comedies of recent times (Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, The Science Of Sleep) as well as a surreal tale of video piracy starring Jack Black and Mos Def (Be Kind Rewind).

Alas, Gondry has finally sold out with his first foray into the hugely competitive arena of explosive, big-budget blockbusters.

The Green Hornet resurrects the eponymous masked avenger from George W Trendle’s popular radio series and puts him at the centre of a flimsy, illogical plot and a blitzkrieg of headache-inducing action sequences that strain the eyes in 3D.

A puerile script by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg of Superbad and Pineapple Express renown leaves no room for sparks of originality.

Indeed, if Gondry’s name wasn’t clearly emblazoned on the credits, you’d seriously question whether the quixotic French film-maker was really the creative dynamo behind this clatter of disparate elements.

The sooner he returns to quirky low-budget fare that puts characters and story before spectacle, the better.

Media magnate James Reid (Tom Wilkinson) dies from an allergic reaction to a bee sting, leaving his empire to his wastrel son, Britt (Seth Rogen), a mainstay of the city’s hedonistic party scene.

The son forges an unlikely friendship with his father’s driver, Kato (Jay Chou), and together they fight crime on the city streets.

In his guise as The Green Hornet, Britt strikes fear into the heart of the underworld controlled by Benjamin Chudnofsky (Christoph Waltz), aided by Kato and his seemingly indestructible car, The Black Beauty.

Sexy new secretary Lenore Case (Cameron Diaz), who has a degree in criminology, proves a valuable ally in stoking the mythology of The Green Hornet to splash across the front pages.

Unfortunately, Britt underestimates the determination of Chudnofsky, who intends to swat the masked heroes and seize back control of Los Angeles.

The Green Hornet lacks cohesion, clumsily teeing up set pieces which include a ridiculous chase around the newspaper offices.

Kato’s own version of bullet-time fighting, flooring his adversaries in slow motion, is visually appealing but turns out to be the film’s only directorial flourish.

Britt is deeply unlikeable – oafish, crude and deeply selfish, he doesn’t possess any common sense and we spend the entire film praying unkindly that someone will slap that smug grin off Rogen’s face.

Chou is tolerable as the sidekick with slick martial arts moves but Diaz has nothing to do other than stand around in her underwear while Waltz, who won an Oscar as a villainous Nazi officer in Inglourious Basterds, should sack his agent immediately.

Gondry’s film can’t buzz off quick enough.

Jay Chou, left, and Seth Rogen in action for The Green Hornet