Last Knights
Kazuaki Kiriya

"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).