|"I'm hoping this franchise can transform me into a Steve Reeves for the New Millennium."|
The Last Witch Hunter (2015)
Dir. Breck Eisner
Starring: Vin Diesel (dubbed "Not His Real Name" by the late, great film critic John Harkness), Michael Caine, Rose Leslie, Elijah Wood, Ólafur Darri Ólafsson
Review By Greg Klymkiw
One doesn't go to a movie entitled The Last Witch Hunter expecting a masterpiece, especially when its lead is played by Vin ("Not His Real Name") Diesel, the bald, vaguely simian wiseacre star of the Fast and Furious and XXX franchises who, it seems, is seeking a whole new persona to exploit in yet another potential franchise. In fact, one expects something considerably lower on the rung when its revealed that the director will be Breck (Sahara, The Crazies) Eisner, a man who has yet to direct anything resembling a good movie.
In spite of these strikes against it, one grits ones teeth and hopes the movie will at least be fun on the level of 50s/60s Italian sword and sandal epics starring the likes of Steve Reeves. For the first few minutes, with Diesel traipsing about some Middle Ages fantasy setting with a ludicrous bushy beard and wielding a humungous sword, one believes that the modest hopes one had going in might blossom into something a bit more enjoyable.
Unfortunately, Diesel's character is defeated by the head honcho of all witches and cursed with eternal life and banished to an eternity of always remembering he didn't avenge the murder of his wife and child. That said, he becomes a witch hunter and, for a few hundred years he's been decimating "bad" witches all over the place.
|"Look, this babe behind me has such a bad speech impediment I can't understand a word she says. Can we use some witchcraft to fix this up?"|
For the rest of this movie, Diesel (sans beard) lives high atop the city in a swanky Manhattan pad and continues his vendetta against witches who refuse to live peacefully with humans. He even has a sidekick in the form of a Catholic priest played by Michael Caine (who no doubt earned a sizeable cheque to pay for a few more mansions in the sky). When Sir Michael is savagely tortured and left for dead, Diesel not only gets mad, he's going to get even. Related to this injustice is the fact that some bad witches are about to release a plague upon New York, so the Diesel-meister is going to have his hands full. The Catholics, always on top of such matters, give him a new Holy mortal sidekick in the form of a young priest (Elijah Wood) who means well, but is lacking the know-how of his predecessor.
Even all this might have been palatable if it wasn't for the fact that the movie gets increasingly convoluted and stupid. Stupid is fine, but once its commingled with convolutions, it becomes deadly. Add to this an uninspired villain (Ólafur Darri Ólafsson) and a horrendous leading lady (Rose Leslie, she of the speech impediment which renders all her lines to mush and a grating high-pitched voice which is probably enough to send canines the world over into a tizzy rivalling the silent dog whistles one can buy from ads at the back of comic books) and worst of all, a character working both sides of the good/evil coin that we can see from the first minute he appears on screen, we know - beyond a shadow of any doubt - that this picture is going to be a boring stinker.
|One of the most repulsive screen kisses in recent memory.|
Eisner's non-direction proves he's not even grasped basic skill sets to put him in hack territory. He simply has no idea of where to place his camera and the action scenes are all a miss-mashed mess.
Diesel has apparently announced a sequel is in the works. Let's hope it quietly goes the way of the Dodo. That said, I'd be up for a Fast and Furious sequel which offers Diesel in full-on sword-and-sandal beard. Now that, could be a howler worth enjoying.
THE FILM CORNER RATING: * One-Star
The Last Witch Hunter is a Lions Gate production in release world wide via eOne.