Starring Clive Owen, Cliff Curtis, Aksel Hennie, Ayelet Zurer, Morgan Freeman. Directed by Kazuaki Kiriya. (2015, 114 min). LIONSGATE
Last Knights is a lot better than its generic title suggests.
Clive Owen stars as Raiden, as fiercely-loyal military commender who, along with his elite soldiers, protects a kingdom run by nobleman Bartok (Morgan Freeman), which is part of a much larger empire. When Bartok refuses to give-in to the unreasonable tax demands of minister Geza Mott (Aksel Hennie, in a wonderfully despicable performance), he is executed for treason by the emperor, leaving Raiden and his men disavowed (knights without a master, no longer part of any clan). These men go their separate ways, yet Mott is obsessed with the certainty Raiden will seek revenge.
Meanwhile, Raiden himself retreats back to his early days of drinking and alienating those close to him, to the point where everyone (including his wife) has written him off as a sad drunk who's given up on life. Of course, anyone familiar with the tale of the 47 Ronin (or any other film based on the legend) knows there's plenty of revenge in store, just bubbling under the surface.
As such, for yet-another movie which more-or-less skipped a wide theatrical release, Last Knights is a surprisingly entertaining take on the classic 47 Ronin tale, weighted by another solidly-stoic turn by Owen. He's supported by an able cast, although Morgan Freeman fans may be disappointed that his scenes are all regulated to the first half-hour or so. The film tends to drag a little longer than necessary during the middle act, But once the climactic action begins (preceded by an expected-but-fun plot twist), Last Knights is rousing and enjoyable, despite the fact we've seen it all before.