Last Knights: Dull Action that Not Even Morgan Freeman Can Save
Aksel HennieClive Owen...
Action & AdventureDrama
In 1 Cinema
There’s a distinct lack of excitement and sense of adventure that underlines Japanese director Kazuaki Kiriya’s medieval-fantasy, Last Knights; a slow, puzzling and dreary sword-and-sandals action that is devoid of any energy.
Corruption, betrayal, honour and revenge are the running themes and, apart from a couple of genuinely interesting and technically well-executed action sequences, most of Last Knights is pretty lifeless, with very little character.
The story follows Raiden (Owen); a trusted lieutenant and a leader of an army of soldiers called the Seventh Rank whose sole duty is to serve and protect Lord Bartok (Freeman) – something he does with pride and loyalty after he was saved from the grips of alcoholism by the wise lord.
However, trouble soon comes in the form of Gezza Mott (Hennie); a bribe-seeking, sleazy representative of an almighty unnamed Emperor (Maadi). After a few tedious scenes showing Bartok refusing to yield to the Emperor’s demands – which are largely based on, wait for it, taxes – Freeman’s character is slain, sparking off Raiden and friends’ mission to seek revenge
Taking almost an hour before eventually kicking into gear, Last Knights is very keen on playing things out verbally in trying to infuse its fictional world with a sense of gravitas. The problem with this, however, is that there’s no backbone or base; a bizarre mix of medieval east and west, the fantasy setting is unstructured, random and vague – Lord of the Rings this is not.
Another problem is the untimely death of Bartok; Freeman shines as the only character with any kind of depth and his early departure signals a quick descent for an already thin and haggard plot. Meanwhile, Owen’s often ridiculed stoic disposition actually puts him in good stead for the role of an unyieldingly loyal soldier looking to avenge his mentor.
This is all a side-note, however, you could have out Marlon Brando or a young Al Pacino in this film and it would have been just us underwhelming. Sluggish and generally uninteresting, Kiriya fails to engage the audience, despite the plot having a sturdy underlying premise – revenge is a complex and emotive subject, but Last Knights drains any kind of enthusiasm out of it, bringing nothing new or unique to the table.