The Last Knights Review

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By: Justin Jasso (@jjasso007)

There was a time when honor and chivalry were aspects of a man’s life that guided his actions. Though it seems like such a time is something of fantasy, it still lives on today in period pieces detailing the lives of knights and lords. While films of this type are less prevalent today, it can still be seen, to some extent, in shows like Game of Thrones, Spartacus, and Rome. Director Kazuaki Kiriya delivers a tale of knights, lords, honor, and vengeance with his latest film, The Last Knights.

The Emperor (Peyman Moaadi) rules over the lands, with lords ruling individual regions. Lord Bartok (Morgan Freeman) and his group of skilled and deadly warriors, known as the Seventh Rank, serve the Emperor and defend the lands. The Seventh Rank is led by Raiden (Clive Owen), followed by his Lieutenant Cortez (Cliff Curtis). The Emperor’s 3rd in command, Geeza Mott (Aksel Hennie) requires payment from the lords each month, in the form of money/bribes to allow things to continue to run smoothly. When Bartok refuses to pay, Mott takes deadly action and it is up to the Seventh Rank to avenge the Bartok name and see justice served.

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If the synopsis sounds plain and bland, it is because the movie is the same. It is also because there is a big plot point which would be giving too much away if told, so it has to be this way. Yet, Last Knights isn’t anything new to the genre nor to storytelling. A revenge piece where an unforeseeable event (for the characters) causes a drastic change, leading characters’ lives to take unexpected turns, and yet we know exactly how everything is going to turn out in the end. No, it is never fun when we can predict how a story goes early on in a film, but if the film is fun, we can let it slide. And while some of the action sequences are entertaining to watch, we never sense any real peril for the main characters, nor does the action ever really feel “real.” It is one of those “by the book” type of stories that looks good on the outside, but once you start reading it, you know you read this one already.

The story really falls on the shoulders of Clive Owen, and he carries it well enough. Not that this role was really a stretch for him, nor does it require a whole lot of acting. It isn’t until the end of the first act that Owen really is allowed to display any real type of character work. He even has his own “Kaiser Soze” moment late in the film, which is probably paying homage to The Usual Suspects. Morgan Freeman feels a little out of place but is still believable in his role. His character does come off flat and more one-note than we, and I’m sure he, would have liked. The rest of the cast are very much supporting roles, and taken from all over the world. It truly is a blend of all regions in Last Knights.

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Last Knights could have been much better than it was. Maybe if more was put in to developing the story opposed combining so many aspects of different cultures (a South Korean film in the British knight style from a Japanese director, filmed in the Czech Republic with samurai themes), it may have been a better experience. Not to say the film is bad, but it definitely isn’t good either. Lackluster action, characters that aren’t fully fleshed out and a predictable story lead to a disappointment for movie goers. As far as this film goes, this really was the last knight.

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars


    One Comment

  1. RoninMDMarch 17th, 2016 at 7:59 am

    I know you people are used to seeing white actors in medieval settings, but there was a time and place where Asians, Caucasians, and Africans did exist together in an empire that was a southern offshoot of the Mongolian empire perhaps post-marco polo and after the death of Kublai Khan. The indian/pakistani looking Emperor in the film reminds me of a similar character who served under Kublai as his treasurer and tax collector who traveled further southwest

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