Review: ‘Last Knights’, Starring Clive Owen, Morgan Freeman, and Aksel Hennie

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In a world of action movies filled to the brim with loud action sequences, trigger-happy characters, explosions and the like, it almost seems unfamiliar to bring back the days of good old sword duels, knights, chivalry and loyalty. But Last Knights sets out to do just that. And while the production value is high (for the most part), the film fails to ever give a backbone to what all the fighting is about. The loyalty to the knight’s code is as dead as knights themselves and brings down the film, leaving it a meager action film with no real substance.

Lord Bartok (Morgan Freeman) has no heirs, confides heavily in his retainer and commander Raiden (Clive Owen), and believes so much in the ways and traditions of old that he’s willing to die for it. Having been bribed by the minister Gezza (Aksel Hennie) to the emperor (Peyman Moaadi) in order to give up his land, Bartok decides to retaliate with words and insubordination in front of said emperor, in the name of values and the codes of ye olden days. This sentences him to death.
Much to the chagrin of Raiden and his entire army, loyal to Bartok to the grave and beyond, their master’s death shatters them. Bartok’s lands are equally divided as per the emperor’s request. Many living within Bartok’s lands are displaced and his daughter enslaved as a prostitute; all as Raiden slowly deteriorates into his old ways of drinking and general uselessness.  But have Bartok’s men really given up hope of rising up and taking down the corrupt Gezza, or are they just biding their time?

 

Director Kazuaki Kiriya wishes to see the supposed nobleness of a time long gone back front and center, even down to the gray and gritty-looking cinematography that paints the film, giving it a damp and lonely old castle look. But the loyalty and nobility aspect of knighthood falls very flat here. The film tries exceptionally hard to maintain an epic feel and a chivalrous and gallant air about the entire situation, but fails at accomplishing even these things.

The main antagonist is but a spoiled brat of a human being and there is no real fight to him. He parades around a lot while everyone is practically preparing for war. The real issue at hand isn’t with the antagonist or even the protagonist, but is with the fact that the entire time, Freeman and his army are fighting against immoral rulers and in the name of loyalty and knighthood but there it all feels contrived. There is no background or preemptive actions, so all we really have are words and words only to sustain our belief that the knights are doing the right thing. It isn’t very convincing. Ultimately a trite and drab film that doesn’t follow through on the ideas it attempts to feed us.

Release Date: April 3, 2015 | Director: Kazuaki Kiriya | Screenwriter: Michael Konyves, Dove Sussman | Cast: Clive Owen, Morgan Freeman, Aksel Hennie, Peyman Moaadi | Genre: Action, Adventure | MPAA Rating: R for some violence

 

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About Author

Mae is a Washington, DC-based film critic, entertainment journalist and Weekend Editor at Heroic Hollywood. A member of the Washington, DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA), she's a geek who loves discussing movies and TV. She is also a voting member of the Black Reel Awards. If she's not at the movies, she's catching up on her superhero TV-watching, usually with a glass of wine in hand.

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