|Why yes, we are bad ass!|
Take one big heaping part of the classic legend of the Forty-seven Ronin, three teaspoons of Ocean’s Eleven and a light dash of First Knight. Stir until mixed, then serve with multi-culturalism and a voice-over from Morgan Freeman.
That essentially sums up Last Knights. The unfortunately titled movie is reasonably enjoyable, but suffers several missteps, the first of which is naming the main character Raiden. Most fans of semi-historic action, swords and sandals-type genre films will sit up in their seat when they hear the name and wonder if they got it wrong. They didn’t. Clive Owen isn’t quite Lord Raiden (from the Mortal Kombat game or the movie), and likely the film is trying to evoke Raijin, the Japanese god of lightning and thunder. Here, it’s a miss.
Explanations also fly fast and furious in the first act of the movie, telling the audience why there’s a multi-cultural cast (not needed), and why Raiden is so dangerous (he has a dark past we never see, and is never part of the movie again). Also, why Morgan Freeman’s Lord Bartok must do everything in his power to not tell the truth of the confrontation with the Big Bad (whose name I honestly can’t remember) and instead must die.
|This is how you make a legend.|
The movie hews fairly closely to the legend of the 47 ronin, which is actually a lot of fun to watch (and much, much better than that Keanu Reeves travesty). But tries to make us care about too many characters in the semi-ensemble cast. As an updated version of the movie, the assault on the Big Bad’s nearly impregnable keep is wonderful and very exciting. But misses opportunities to really sell the legend as an update, by bogging it down with allusions to a caste system that is never clear and never fully understood.
Overall, though, I liked this film and could easily watch it again. Clive Owen and his supporting cast do an excellent job. The assault is very exciting, the sword play and fight scenes are watchable, and mostly realistic. I even liked the psuedo-katana swords!