What makes it so funny? It's not that Damon hasn't done accents before -- he received mixed notices for his South African accent in Invictus but he nailed an exaggerated version of his own Boston baritone in The Departed -- but this one feels so uncommitted. So generic. So silly. It waffles not just from scene to scene, but from line to line. The only consistency is how consistently bizarre it is.
No one else in the movie is doing this particular accent. As Damon shares the screen with Game of Thrones scene-stealer Pedro Pascal, who plays his wisecracking Portuguese sidekick, and Jing Tian, who plays the badass Commander Lin Ma, he switches up his intonation at a moment's notice. It's not even that Damon is bad in the movie -- he does a decent job selling the movie's ludicrous conceit -- but once you start paying attention to the accent, it's all you can think about. It becomes more distracting than your 3D glasses.
The strangest part? Apparently, this was all by design. In a recent interview with Yahoo, Damon discusses the character's accent, which he created with acclaimed Hollywood dialect coach Tim Monich. "The accent we made up," he says in the clip. "It had to be understandable. It couldn't be modern English. And then [Monich] made rules for it -- the way he does with any dialect we're working on -- so we kinda cobbled it together that way." Congratulations if you can figure out what those rules were.
"Have you ever seen anything like this?" asks Damon at one point in the movie. After a quick dramatic pause, Pascal puts on his best awestruck face and says, "Incredible." In the scene, the two are marveling at the stunning military might of the Chinese, which includes color-coded uniforms, giant flaming catapults, and a squad of women who jump off the wall with fancy bungee cords. But they just as easily could've been talking about Damon's accent, too. We've never seen anything like it. And it's incredible.