Cinema Review: Last Knights | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Saturday, April 4th, 2020  

Last Knights

Studio: Lionsgate
Directed by Kaz Kiriya

Apr 01, 2015 Web Exclusive
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There’s corruption afoot in Last Knights’ generic medieval setting! One of the emperor’s trusted advisors, Gezza Mott, is demanding bribes from his lesser nobles, but Lord Morgan Freeman doesn’t play that game. They get into a scuffle over the matter, and Freeman is sentenced to death at the hands of his trusted manservant-slash-army-commander, Raiden (Clive Owen, curiously named after a Japanese thunder god.) Mott fears that Raiden will seek revenge, and devotes much of the kingdom’s resources to building an impassible fortress to keep out Raiden and his sword-carrying comrades. However, it seems that Raiden has given up, sold his sword, and become a drunk who isn’t interested in revenge at all. Or, is he?!?

Last Knights feels like the cheap sort of Game of Thrones knock-off you’d find on the History or SyFy channels. The world is ill-defined: a mishmash of medieval East and West, where we’re asked to care about intrigue and power struggles without being given any indication of scale or the stakes involved. While the film deserves credit for its colorblind casting, it’s hard to imagine how one squalid medieval kingdom became such a cultural melting pot: the actors hail from Hollywood, the United Kingdom, Scandinavia, Iran, Israel, South Korea, Italy, Japan, and across Eastern Europe. (They all speak English with varying accents.) Shot in the Czech Republic, where costs are cheap and castles are plentiful, the whole things feels slapped together for a quick buck.

But it’s not fair to pick on the bit players when the leads dial in their performances. Morgan Freeman could play a wise, old nobleman in his sleep, and that seems to be what he does here. Clive Owen really only has to convincingly grieve the loss of his master and look cool holding a sword. He doesn’t succeed, and it’s hard to tell whether it’s because his character is too one-dimensional or his performance is too one-note. Aksel Hennie would surely win the crown for the most shrill, villainous diva of 2015 if Eddie Redmayne hadn’t assumed that throne in Jupiter Ascending just two months earlier. (He sucks on his long hair and strokes a fluffy lapdog as if he’s the bad guy in a bad Bond knock-off.)

Director Kaz Kiriya also made 2004’s epic sci-fi flick, Casshern, which was at least visually interesting; it’s a shame he rarely musters anything more than dark, cramped interiors in Last Knights. At an extremely tedious two hours, Last Knights is every bit as awful as its pun title. 

Author rating: 2/10

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Average reader rating: 1/10


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