Movie Review: The Last Witch Hunter.
No one goes to a Vin Diesel film expecting a class act. What he delivers is pure mass entertainment devoid of logic and reason -- full of fun and thrills. The hunk is one of Hollywood's most bankable stars who has headlined blockbuster franchises like The Fast and the Furious and The Chronicles of Riddick. With The Last Witch Hunter, Diesel -- who is also the producer of the film -- attempts creating another money-spinning franchise to his name, but the end result leaves much to be desired.
Diesel plays Kaulder, a warrior who is grieving the death of his wife and daughter during the Black Plague, which was unleashed by the Witch Queen (Julie Engelbrecht) in the Middle Age. The film begins with Kaulder and his group of warriors tracking down the evil witch in a snowy wasteland. In the ensuing battle, Kaulder manages to corner the witch, but before slaying her she curses him with immortality, which gives him Wolverine-like regeneration powers.
Flash forward 800 years and Kaulder is a smooth-talking, suave, sharp-dressed man living in a palatial apartment in New York and is still a witch hunter working for the uber secretive group called Axe and Cross. The world is much different now as the witches and Axe and Cross have entered into an accord, which prohibits using magic on humans. If someone engages in dark magic Kaulder finds them and confines them to an inescapable prison.
The witch hunter is assisted by a priest-cum-chronicler Dolan the 36th (Michael Caine) who is nearing his retirement and passing on the mantle to the next Dolan (Ejijah Woods). Things take an unexpected turn when the elderly priest is found dead. Kaulder senses that something is amiss and finds the presence of powerful dark magic. He realises that a nefarious plot is being hatched by a group of necromancers led by Belial (Olafur Darri Olafsson) to revive the Witch Queen and unleash the plague again. The rest of the film showcases how Kaulder thwarts this threat with the help of the white witch Chloe (Rose Leslie) and the younger Dolan.
The Last Witch Hunter is passion project of Diesel whose Kaulder in the film is modelled on Melkor, his old Dungeons & Dragons character. The plot had potential but the film is let down by a weak script and lack of palpable tension. Director Breck Eisner has proven his competence in the horror genre both in film and television, notably The Crazies (2010) and The Sacrifice, an episode in the series Fear Itself. There were ample opportunities to rattle the audience, but Eisner didn't seize these. The digital effects and action sequences are quite engaging, but far from fantastic.
This film is an out and out Diesel show. He is there in almost every frame either smirking or grimacing and mouthing dialogues in his trademark guttural voice. Though he has charisma and fan following to ensure box-office results, this ambitious project is unlikely to make the cut.
Talented actors like Caine and Woods are wasted in this film. Game of Thrones fame Rose gets to play a lead role, but she does not make an impression as a witch with rare gifts.
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