From overindulgent Japanese director Kazuaki Kiriya comes a dull remake of The 47 Ronin, which doesn’t even have the ridiculous excess and glamour of 2013’s Keanu Reeves vehicle going for it. Its only concession to genuine entertainment is taking Japan’s Edo period and grafting it onto a medieval medley setting. But both pools of stimulus are ditched in favour of a po-faced tale of honour and loyalty.
Clive Owen is at his most dour as commander Raiden, overseeing a group of elite soldiers for their clan and master. The group follow a strict but poorly defined Bushido-like warrior code. The empire that governs them has been corrupted by nefarious minister Geza Mott (Aksel Hennie). After their master is unceremoniously killed, the warriors-turned-Ronin are scattered. A year later Raiden is a drinking and whoring himself into oblivion, while the others ruthlessly plan their vengeance against Mott.
Morgan Freeman takes on the mantle of clan leader Bartok, proving that all he’s really got going for him is his baritone, and even his dulcet tones aren’t enough to save Last Knights from mediocrity and tedium. Though Owen and Freeman take top billing, there’s plenty of familiar faces including Cliff Curtis and the late Dave Legeno in his last film role.
The fight choreography is bland with a mismatch of fighting styles and quick cuts to mask the shoddy effects and am dram shamble. The near two-hour running time is due in no small part the slow-mo which draws out the peppering of fight scenes. There’s some nice enough, if innocuous, set pieces and even the odd decent shot, mostly of Clive Owen looking sad in snow or rain.
Kiriya begs your indulgence for almost two hours with nothing but dull characters and a plodding script in return. For a similar and superior take on vengeance and loyalty after watching Last Knights, Takeshi Miike’s 13 Assassins is a suitable palate cleanser.
Special Features: None
INFO: LAST KNIGHTS / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: KAZUAKI KIRIYA / SCREENPLAY: MICHAEL KONYVES, DOVE SUSSMAN / STARRING: MORGAN FREEMAN, CLIVE OWEN, AKSEL HENNIE, CLIFF CURTIS, DAVE LEGENO / RELEASE DATE: JUNE 29TH