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Review: Last Knights

Last Knights
03.30.2015
5 10

PLOT: A group of knights, led by the noble Raiden (Clive Owen) avenge their master's (Morgan Freeman) disgrace as the hands of a tyrant (Aksel Hennie).

REVIEW: Well, this is a weird one. You'd think that a large-scale fantasy epic starring Morgan Freeman and Clive Owen would get a higher-profile release than the quiet VOD bow it's getting Friday – and sure enough the final product hints at a somewhat uneven production history. Directed by Japanese director Kazuaki Kiriya, the helmer behind CASSHERN, I've been reading about this film since 2012. Watching the finished product, it looks like LAST KNIGHTS must have been shot with a healthy production budget, with good costuming and elaborate Eastern European sets. Yet, in the post-production process this seems to have suffered, with some outrageously uneven CGI and a complete lack of energy behind the camera – strange considering Kiriya's resume.

LAST KNIGHTS seems to be a take on the famous forty-seven Ronin legend, albeit done on a far smaller-scale than the recent Keanu Reeves vehicle (they could have called this “The Twelve Ronin'). The action has been transplanted from Japan to a kind of multi-racial medieval fantasy land that exists under a feudal system overseen by an Emperor (played by CAMP X-RAY's Peyman Moaadi in a handful of scenes). Morgan Freeman plays one of the nice-guy lords, which – naturally means he's doomed. Clive Owen plays his roguish lieutenant/adopted son, with a mysterious past and an edge. Freeman's in and out of this fairly quickly, looking like he only shot a few days at most, and for most of his (scant) screen-time he does his usual thing, lending the film a bit of gravitas (and sporting a truly insane pig-tailed mustache).

This is really Clive Owen's movie and as usual he delivers even if LAST KNIGHTS seems below him. Seeing him here is like watching Rutger Hauer in one of those bad DTV action movies he found himself starring in throughout the nineties. He's good, but it feels like his talents are being wasted as he tries mightily to give his character some depth. A long interlude where Raiden leaves his clan to become a drunken vagrant at least gives Owen a chance to act a bit, although it's pretty easy to guess where the film is going to go from there. The subplot involving his wife – played by Ayelet Zurer – feels totally underdeveloped, which is a shame as her and Owen have good chemistry. Another problem with LAST KNIGHTS is that after a promising intro, more than an hour goes by without any action at all, a huge issue as the machinations of Aksel Hennie's snarling villain aren't very interesting. Hennie's a superstar in much of Europe, but he's wasted here in a two-dimensional part, and seems to have only been added to give the film some pre-sell value. He gets very little to do and his final showdown with Owen is very anti-climactic given Hennie's work as an action hero in movies like MAX MANUS.

Overall, LAST KNIGHTS is pretty mediocre, although Owen keeps the film from unraveling and a big fight scene between him and the baddie's henchman (Tsuyoshi Ihara) is pretty decent. As far as a VOD rental goes this isn't bad although the poor pacing and shoddy post-production work makes this seem more disposable than it would have been had Kiriya put more of a stamp on it and if the VFX were up to snuff. It's OK action fare but not much more than that.

CLICK IMAGE TO OPEN GALLERY & SEE MORE PICS...

Source: JoBlo.com

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5:43PM on 04/05/2015
I don't think you have been fair to this film, Bumbray! I'm watching it now and so far it is pretty great. A lot better than the last Hobbit film for instance. Great actors and amazing settings.
I don't think you have been fair to this film, Bumbray! I'm watching it now and so far it is pretty great. A lot better than the last Hobbit film for instance. Great actors and amazing settings.
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10:14AM on 03/31/2015
Definitely reflect the majority here. Clive is such an amazing talent, and it really does boggle the mind that he has not been in more worthy things. Last movie that I truly enjoyed him in was The International, but even that was a pretty modest release and budget film. Not much else to say really... just kind of painful to watch someone like him not to better.
Definitely reflect the majority here. Clive is such an amazing talent, and it really does boggle the mind that he has not been in more worthy things. Last movie that I truly enjoyed him in was The International, but even that was a pretty modest release and budget film. Not much else to say really... just kind of painful to watch someone like him not to better.
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12:38AM on 03/31/2015
Ahhh damn poor Clive whats happening to him. He was so high profile for awhile and now this is happening. I did like him in his other medieval romp, King Arthur, but I admit to never even hearing about this movie. And that can't be a good thing.
Ahhh damn poor Clive whats happening to him. He was so high profile for awhile and now this is happening. I did like him in his other medieval romp, King Arthur, but I admit to never even hearing about this movie. And that can't be a good thing.
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+0
12:31AM on 03/31/2015
I thought this was one of the upcoming Guy Ritchie movies, so I guess I've never heard of it. Owen (or just his movies) sure has gone down hill. What was his last good one? And he sure hasn't done anything good dramatic wise like Closer
I thought this was one of the upcoming Guy Ritchie movies, so I guess I've never heard of it. Owen (or just his movies) sure has gone down hill. What was his last good one? And he sure hasn't done anything good dramatic wise like Closer
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12:03AM on 03/31/2015
Clive Owen needs to be in better films.
Clive Owen needs to be in better films.
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8:01PM on 03/31/2015
Hear hear. The man also needs a franchise.
Hear hear. The man also needs a franchise.
11:54PM on 03/30/2015
Only 5? Too bad. I loved the spectacle of Casshern, even if the story bored me. With all these great actors and gorgeous medieval settings I was hoping for something worthwhile.
Only 5? Too bad. I loved the spectacle of Casshern, even if the story bored me. With all these great actors and gorgeous medieval settings I was hoping for something worthwhile.
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11:51PM on 03/30/2015
Yeah, I expected 5/10 as well. Looks like a movie to watch on rainy Sunday afternoon.
Yeah, I expected 5/10 as well. Looks like a movie to watch on rainy Sunday afternoon.
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11:56PM on 03/30/2015
Yeah, with a hookah it could even be good.
Yeah, with a hookah it could even be good.
12:04AM on 03/31/2015
Hahaha, nice!
Hahaha, nice!
+0
11:21PM on 03/30/2015
Not surprised in the least. Kiriya's previous efforts have been mediocre with shoddy CGI. I was actually quite surprised to see that he was helming a Hollywood production with big name actors. I may check this out for curiosity sake at some point, but this looks mostly like a pass to me.
Not surprised in the least. Kiriya's previous efforts have been mediocre with shoddy CGI. I was actually quite surprised to see that he was helming a Hollywood production with big name actors. I may check this out for curiosity sake at some point, but this looks mostly like a pass to me.
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