Bullet Points: Last Knights
Last Knights could have been a really good movie instead it was just a fun movie with not a lot going for it. It did have Morgan Freeman and Clive Owen, which is more than most films of this caliber can boast, but it probably would have worked better if it had actually taken place in feudal Japan with a cast that could stop pretending to be some sort of samurai-like knights and just be samurai. Keanu had 47 Ronin come out not long ago and it failed to make much of a splash so I can see the reasoning behind this one not being marketed the same way but it is obviously inspired by the same Japanese legend of the Ronin who would go on to avenge and re-establish the honor of their master so why don’t we just call a spade a spade?
- The Gist: A clan of knights must decide whether their lives are worth the very things they’ve built their entire society on; honor, loyalty, and duty. When their master is dishonored will they make the ultimate sacrifice to his secure his legacy?
- The Cast: Aside from the two aforementioned stars of Morgan Freeman and Clive Owen, much of the rest of the cast was as interchangeable as a box of Legos. I hate to say that every single character filled a stereotypical role in this sorta/kinda medieval film but it wouldn’t surprise me to find out that Clive Owen thought he work up in 2004 on the set of King Arthur. The fact that they all lived in some sort of quai-made up world where everything is similar to history but not quite accurate was more of a distraction than it was original or fun. I also couldn’t get passed how bad some of the names were; Captain Raiden, Lord Bartok, Gezza Mott…WTF? It just felt like a really half-assed attempt at making a cool story into a decent film. You won’t be surprised to hear a Freeman narration at the beginning or for Owen to look like his normally unshaven self for most of the movie but my biggest disappointment was that Cliff Curtis’ character didn’t get any more screen time. Bummer.
The way they’re dressed you wouldn’t expect them to be on the same side.
- The Villain: If you want to get a good picture of how the villain (Gezza Mott played by Aksel Hennie) acts in this movie just watch any episode of Hercules ore Xena from the mid 90’s and you’ll get a pretty good idea. I’m certain that Hennie is a much better actor than the shit script he’s made to read from here would suggest. The writing for his character borders on comic book bad and I’ve read a ton of bad comic books. The bad guy really doesn’t have any motivation for his actions other than more wealth, which he already appears to have lots of, or acquiring more power. That is indeed the motivation for many villains but Mott is already the second or third most powerful man in the empire and he never mentions becoming emperor so I found his actions to be complete bull-dookie.
He’s a bad guy in the same way that Bebop and Rocksteady were bad guys on TMNT. No backstory needed.
- The Action: If you want to differentiate this film from others like it then you would probably point to the action to do so. It had many opportunities to declare itself the victor in the 47 Ronin vs Last Knights battle but I’m not sure the film provides enough action scenes to really satiate my appetite for destruction. There are a couple of small battles near the beginning that do nothing other than show our stars fighting and the finale is set up for a massive attack on Mott’s crib but filming the entire sequence in complete darkness does the opposite of what I hoped it would do. We’re never left with the feeling that these knights are any more superior to the rest of the sword-wielding “non-knights” and other than Owen’s showdown with Mott’s BFF we aren’t given a reason to believe that he’s the top dog he’s meant to be. Maybe I’m being too hard on a film that I actually had fun with but I expected more from director Kazuaki Kiriya in his first English-speaking film. You won’t be surprised or depressingly let down by anything that happens in Last Knights. It’s a real picture of mediocrity.
The sets and environment always looks cool but don’t tell me they uses swords with no hand guards!
Take it Home:
- Love that voice: Morgan Freeman must be contractually obligated to provide narration in every movie that he does.
- Re-telling not remake: While I’ve read that this is a remake of the 1941 film 47 Ronin, I would be much more comfortable saying it is a re-telling of that story.
- Filming location: Filmed in the Czech Republic.