Lights, Camera, Action! | Last Knights (DVD Movie Review)

By Freda Cooper 29.06.2015

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Last Knights (UK Rating: 12A)

There's something terribly familiar about Last Knights, released this week on DVD. Not that it's any surprise, because it's the third incarnation of 1941 Japanese movie, The 47 Ronin. Number two was simply 47 Ronin, came out in 2013, starred Keanu Reeves, and took a pounding at the Box Office, as well as at the hands of the critics. Both not only had the same story but the same Japanese setting. Last Knights has at least changed that.
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The story is this: in a feudal society - probably on the borders of Eastern Europe and Asia, judging from the architecture - a senior nobleman rebels against the corrupt practices of his Emperor's most influential advisor. He pays the ultimate price, but his family and followers suffer, as well, thrown out of their homes and forced to make a living any way they can. The leader of his knights, though, sets out to overthrow the man responsible for their misfortune and restore honour to his master's name.

There are a small handful of movie actors who can lift even the most mundane of films to another, at least tolerable, level simply by their presence. Gene Hackman, now retired, was one. Morgan Freeman is another, yet the fact that he can do nothing with Last Knights sums up just how bad it is. Admittedly, he's only around for the first half hour or so, but when the dialogue is so wooden and he's given a cardboard cut-out for a character, it's no wonder that he's permanently stony-faced. He's not the only well-known name in it, the other being Clive Owen, and, while he doesn't have Freeman's status, it's obvious from the DVD cover (and from the posters when the film had its limited cinematic release earlier in the year) that the two actors were heavily used to sell the film. The trouble is, however, that there isn't much a film for them to sell, and it is probably best to not go into why either of them ever accepted their roles in the first place…


 
What's wrong with it, then? Pretty much everything! There's no shame in re-making a film, or just using its plot, although there's no acknowledgement of this anywhere, which is a tad ungrateful, but, given that this is supposed to be an action adventure, it has none of the ingredients that go with the genre. Yes, there's some action, but it's hardly exciting and there's no real sense of adventure. It's as if the story has been taken and someone has tried to give it the Game of Thrones treatment, just without any of the production values of the TV series. The script is third-rate and the film has a strangely grey look. In fact, it's a grey film through and through, in the sense that it's deadly dull, with even the fight scenes doing nothing to lift the tedium.

As for the acting, Owen follows Freeman's lead in wearing the same expression throughout. The villain of the piece is played by Norwegian actor Aksel Hennie (Hercules) and he's nothing short of hilarious. If only it was intentional. He fancies himself as something akin to Thor's brother Lokie - there's no other justification for his haircut - and he sports a wound on his hand that won't heal. Presumably it's meant to be symbolic, but how remains a mystery. British audiences will be much more amused by the fact that his hand is heavily bandaged, just like Keith Lemon, and it's his right hand, as well.

Image for Lights, Camera, Action! | Last Knights (DVD Movie Review)

1/10
Rated 1 out of 10

Awful

Is there anything to recommend Last Knights? Simply, no. Predictable and badly written, it wastes its two lead actors to a criminal extent and is five minutes short of two hours of pure tedium. As a DVD, it should be made available on prescription as a cure for insomnia. This certainly isn't third time lucky for the 47 Ronin story, so hopefully filmmakers will give it a rest for a while. Last Knights should be given the last rites.

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