Last Knights (2015)

lastknights_2015_poster
Last Knights (2015)
  • Time: 115 min
  • Genre: Action | Adventure
  • Director: Kazuaki Kiriya
  • Cast: Clive Owen, Morgan Freeman, Aksel Hennie

Storyline:

Academy Award® Nominee Clive Owen delivers an electrifying performance as a fallen warrior who rises against a corrupt and sadistic ruler to avenge his dishonored master (Academy Award® winner Morgan Freeman) in this epic, sword-clashing adventure of loyalty, honor, and vengeance.

3 reviews

  • “The wounds of honour are self-inflicted,” Morgan Freeman’s nobleman Bartok intones as Last Knight’s most compellingly acted scene comes to a close. Bartok is moments away from martyrdom, his life the price for refusing to be extorted by the Emperor’s greedy minister Gezza Mott (Aksel Hennie). “This man, Gezza Mott, is a cancer growing,” Bartok announces to the Emperor (Peyman Moaadi) and his court, “and the only proper thing to do is to cut it out…for we are helping this man forge the very chains that bind us.”

    Gezza, acknowledged by the Emperor as a necessary evil, pours salt in the wound by having Bartok’s devoted commander Raiden (Clive Owen) behead his own master, who has also been a father figure for this formerly lost soul. Bartok’s family are evicted, his lands divided, all traces of his name destroyed. Raiden, consumed with guilt, falls back into his self-destructive ways whilst Gezza, fearing reprisal from Raiden and his band of warrior brothers, takes all available measures to ensure his own safety.

    Screenwriters Michael Konyves and Dove Sussman insert a yearlong gap between Bartok’s death and Raiden and his men’s attempt to storm Gezza’s compound to avenge their master’s death, and that temporal shift seems to have impaired the film. The first and second halves feel awkwardly fused; there is a disconnect that almost suggests a change of intent on the filmmakers’ parts, but also a lack of consideration in bridging the transition. A sizable chunk of the second half is spent running in place, and it may have been wiser to dispense with the time jump and simply accelerate the revenge plot so as not to compromise the narrative momentum. For that matter, the film could have also jettisoned all female characters since what is the point of having actresses as talented as Shohreh Aghdashloo, Ayelet Zurer, and Sung-kee Ahn and then saddling them with next to nothing to do.

    Last Knights possesses a solid narrative, if nothing else, and there is undeniable care and attention in how the events unfold. A little abandon would have been welcome as the film is often bogged down by its methodical execution. Nevertheless, Japanese filmmaker Kazuaki Kiriya’s workmanlike approach pays off where it counts the most: the neatly staged, well-sustained, and often remarkable siege of Gezza’s heavily fortified complex.

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  • I enjoy the old Japanese Samurai movies made in the ’40s and ’50s. “The 47 Ronin”, based on an historical event, is a film that has been made over and over in Japan. This is a translation of the story that moves it to a mythical empire that physically resembles a western feudal society. This is very convenient, because the original story takes place in a Japanese feudal society. The knights, just happen to live the by the same code as the medieval Samurai! All of this is to tell you not to expect any surprises in this film. If you’re after an original story, you can sign off right here. This is an “oft-told-tale”, if you happen to be Japanese.

    What made it fun for me was the novelty of seeing a multiracial cast, turned out in fantasy western armor, making a straight Japanese historical fiction film. I never got tired of watching standard Samurai dialog coming out of non-Japanese actors.

    Morgan Freeman, who has portrayed God, Presidents, and Generals, has no problem being totally convincing as the doomed, dishonored noble. Clive Owen is a hit as the leader of the noble’s knights. The story is about how far honorable men will go to right an affront to their honor.

  • “This man, Gezza Mott, is a cancer, growing. And the only proper thing to do is to cut it out. You all know what I speak of.”

    It’s been a while since I’ve seen this medieval epic action/drama. All I can remember is that the topic resembled that of “47 Ronin”, except that it didn’t concern samurais. I’m just wondering where this story really happened, because it seemed like it was situated in an oriental country (Something to do with the director perhaps ?). Everything revolves around loyalty, allegiance and revenge. Despite good leads, the end result is a weak film with an extremely slow pace. At the time the action was initiated and the apotheosis announced itself, I was already mentally in a coma. Although I’m a huge fantasy fan (sure, there were a lot of elements missing to make this a real fantasy-movie), I still felt it was just an ordinary and boring medieval knight story with a denouement that you could see way in advance. And that’s the thing you’re just waiting for.

    The whole story focuses on Raiden (Clive Owen) who was taken care of at a young age by Bartok (Morgan Freeman) and promoted to “Commander of the Seventh Rank”. An adjacent kingdom is ruled by Gezza Mott (Aksel Hennie) who seeks to expand his power by intimidation . Bartok refuses to bow to this corrupt ruler, who has the confidence of the ubiquitous Emperor (Peyman Moaadi), and after a skirmish he must appear in court because he threatened an imperial minister. After using seditious and rebellious words, he’s sentenced to death. The subsequent consequences are disastrous. His kingdom is annexed, goods seized, his fortifications razed to the ground and the inhabitants are banished out of his kingdom including Raiden and the members of the “Seventh Rank”.The loyal members of Bartok start an ordinary life as innkeeper or as longshoremen, while Raiden goes back to his bad habit of drinking. Or is this a clever distraction maneuver that serves as a smoke screen for the ultimate revenge plan?

    Gosh, I won’t elaborate any further about this flick so it still will be exciting for some and the surprising twist won’t be spoiled. “Last Knights” is nothing more than a typical sandals film with much clatter of weapons, tough talking and rolling muscles. A medieval spectacle full of faith, an ancient code of honor and betrayal. To be honest, I prefer “First Knight” with Richard Gere. When I think of this movie, I see before my eyes that scene with Gere navigating through the obstacle course. When I think of “Last Knights”, I just want to close my eyes. No memorable or impressive scene is to admire throughout this film. There are only some superb performances. But in the end, that won’t save the movie.

    Freeman shows what you expect from him. Despite his early disappearance, he succeeds again in leaving a lasting impression as the just and principled Bartok. The speech at the trial was impressive and perfectly matches his personality. Owen (who in retrospect looks a lot like Dominic Purcell) is such a colorless actor who you’ll see performing in some movies but whose name you can’t really remember afterwards. He has that rough appearance that suits a knight (that’s why he appears also in “King Arthur”) but his part here isn’t that impressive as in “Blood Ties”. Although his relapse back to his alcohol addiction was convincing and realistic. Aksel Hennie was brilliant as the devious and dangerous Gezza Mott. He reminded me several times of Wormtongue, played by Brad Dourif in “The Lord of the Rings”. The only other familiar face to me was that of Cliff Curtis. A well-known actor who appears in multiple movies (Virus, The Insider, Collateral Damage, Training Day, A thousand words …).

    Take any fantasy movie and remove all the pleasant and entertaining elements such as wizards, dragons, orcs, elves, other mythological creatures and mystical circumstances, and as a result you get a dull movie like “Last Knights”. It feels like an age-old story that takes ages to read before it’s finished. Owen wasn’t disappointing, but he can’t prevent this mediocre film to be part of a “rent-two-get-one-for-free” promotion (with “Last Knights” as the free part of course).

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