Fans of Game of Thrones may be desperate for their favorite show to return, but it’s doubtful they’re so longing for the clang of steel and the slicing of flesh that they’ll turn to Last Knights, a competent but uninspired tale of medieval honor that has a central performance by Clive Owen as one of its few redeeming features.
Set in an unnamed mystical, multicultural land where both skin tones and accents span continents, Last Knights — though northern European in its landscape and set design — is really a samurai vengeance film. That’s not a huge surprise, since director Kazuaki Kiriya has a background in Japanese action cinema.
All this mixing and matching of cultural cues resonates with a pan-global cool but can’t make up for the pedestrian, predictable story.
Owen is Raiden, a warrior sworn to the pure-hearted nobleman Bartok (an underused Morgan Freeman). Bartok finds himself on the wrong side of the royal sword after confronting the emperor’s main envoy, the oddly named and totally evil Gezza Mott (Aksel Hennie, so good in Headhunters) about bribes he’s taking in the emperor’s name.
With Bartok dead, Raiden and his men are homeless and unemployed, with skullduggery and revenge the only cards they have left to play.
Shot in the Czech Republic, Last Knights is a good-looking film, but the action scenes are nothing special and the rudimentary dialogue is delivered stiffly by the international cast — including actors from Japan, South Korea, Norway, Italy, and Iran — as if many learned English as a second language.
It’s Owen, throwing himself into the role of the emotionally wounded warrior, who keeps Last Knights from devolving completely into disposability.
And the countdown to the new season of Game of Thrones continues uninterrupted.
Exclusive: AMC Grapevine Mills
Director: Kazuaki Kiriya
Cast: Clive Owen, Morgan Freeman
Rated: R (violence)
Running time: 115 min.