Clive Owen and Morgan Freeman head in search of tax benefits in the Czech Republic!
He’s a funny one Clive Owen. A physically towering presence on screen and with the right material he can be incredibly watchable. His work in Closer and Children of Men prove that when he enjoys a part he gets stuck in. Conversely it’s also easy to tell when he’s on autopilot. King Arthur springs to mind there. Now we have him in similar sword and armour-fest Last Knights. It is a strange hybrid of a film indeed.
Owing to what seems to be financial backers specifications rather than a coherent plot device the cast is truly universal. We have British Clive as disgraced knight Raiden – I thought he was a Mortal Kombat character. American Morgan Freeman playing his lord Bartok – who I thought was a bat in the animated Anastasia. Norwegian Aksel Hennie (whom you may recognise from Headhunters) as Gezza Mott – that was different I’ll give you that. Plus a supporting cast of Japanese and South Korean actors who try their best to deliver lines in English.
Last Knights over-faces itself right out the gates by trying to create an intricate political thriller set within an unspecified time period where knights and rulers were all the rage when in essence it is a straightforward revenge actioner. Sadly it takes about forty minutes of “intrigue” before we get to the crux of the story. These scenes mostly involve po-faced men, mostly Owen and Freeman talking about code and honour as though they’ve just taken crib notes from Gladiator. Occasionally some sword plays thrown in because… why the hell not, they’ve got swords don’t they?
Have you seen posters of Morgan Freeman looking sullen with his hands clasped together in a long robe. Well you’ve seen him in Last Knights then because that’s all he does, you can probably fill in his dialogue from other films. Clive Owen would clearly like to be somewhere else. His stubble says “rugged knight” but his haircut says “woo-hoo meet me at the hotel bar at seven”. It’s one of his most mono-tone performances to date. Even when he sheds tears it’s probably down to the fact he’s just been told they’re working late that night.
Japan’s Kazuaki Kiriya who is most famous for the sci-fi fantasy Casshern brings a similarly ice-coldness to this project as he did with that film. There are the spectres of a dramatic story in here. But such is the staging and tone of the scenes between its international cast there’s never a hint of anything nearing compelling. Bless them it’s not the casts fault (other than the two marquee names) who do their best with laboured “My Lord, My Lady” style dialogue, Hennie for one actually seems to be trying.
It’s just comes down to the fact that Last Knights is an incredibly dull film. At no point does the intrigue interest and the action is as exciting as watching Songs of Praise with your eyes prised open with elderly ladies whispering ‘Sing Hosanna’ softly in your ears. It drags. It’s a dragger. Which is a shame because clearly a lot of time and resources went into making this production. It just would have helped if it hadn’t started from a script that was written because swords and fantasy is hot right now.
Producer: People love swords and fighting and thrones and shit right now, write something like that.
Writer: Ummmm okay, any particular period?
Writer: Any particular place?
Writer: I’m not an historian kid. Quit giving me questions and give me beautiful words and make sure you write a part that can be filled with either Michael Caine or Morgan Freeman and one for Clive Owen or Sean Bean.
Writer: I’ll have it for you write after I’ve watched an episode of Game of Thrones.
Dir: Kazuaki Kiriya
Scr: Michael Konyves, Dove Sussman
Starring: Clive Owen, Morgan Freeman, Aksel Hennie, Cliff Curtis
Prd: Luci Y. Kim
DOP: Antonio Riestra
Music: Satnam Ramgotra, Martin Tillman
Country: Czech Republic, South Korea
Run time: 115 mins
Last Knights is available on Steelbook, Blu-Ray and DVD from 29 June 2015.
Check out Clive Owen and Morgan Freeman discussing knight business in the clip below.