Director: Breck Eisner
Cast: Vin Diesel, Rose Leslie, Elijah Wood
Running Time: 106 minutes
Release Date: October 21st
Vin Diesel plays an 800-year old knight/viking/ vague historical warrior named Kauldur, cursed to roam the earth immortal in defiance of any vaguely witchy business that might be at hand. The idea sells itself!
Is there a Witches Council? You bet there is! Is Vin (Is that what he goes by? Vin?) the coolest guy this side of the new millennium, bedding stewardesses and singing the praise of iPads and sweet cars? What kind of Witch Hunter would he be if he wasn’t? Not the last one anyway! But, has he got a girlfriend? No, sadly. Presumably because he can neither die nor age while they of course can do nothing, but hey that’s the central character arc you’re stuck with when you write about an unflappable immortal. Enter the always wonderful Rose Leslie who is great and whose character I will write no more about because I don’t want to criticise her, other than to say she does her best to hate that mean old Witch Hunter up until he comes along all charming and cool and irresistibly unaging.
There seems to be some strange market for dark, urban, action fairytales, as something like The Last Witch Hunter comes along rather often, but sadly Breck Eisner’s take on the genre previously tread by films like The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Snow White and the Huntsman, and The Brothers Grimm is not the perfection of the form Hollywood seems to be seeking. In fact, it is probably as weak and oddly well cast as any of the aforementioned, and is unnoteworthy for that very reason.
In its defense, it is tonally weird but consistent in that, and establishes an interesting New York where fantasy lies behind the scenes, which we see just little enough of that it tantalises. The runtime may have been better spent on that then the first draft storyline, which is so unremarkable and indistinct that noticing its weaknesses and plotholes are your own fault for expecting better. Things are wrapped up too conveniently or come out of nowhere and its twists and reveals may have elicited sarcastic gasps from members of the audience, but at no point did this film give the impression that we should be optimistic about what is to come.
The cast are likeable and do their best with their abysmal dialogue, whose tactic seems to be to keep a back and forth going until something clever slips out. Michael Caine bizarrely came out of retirement for this, which he only really does rarely, but his reprisal of his role as Alfred in The Dark Knight trilogy is enjoyable. Elijah Wood too does what he can, though this film is basically the cinematic opposite of The Lord of the Rings (and I’m not talking about The Hobbit, amirite? Seriously, remember when we all pretended we liked The Hobbit films? I mean they were fine, but… You know what, I’m getting distracted.) And Rose Leslie is great as always let’s not blame her for the script okay, everyone.
Forgettable, though not bad enough to hate, The Last Witch Hunter certainly won’t be the last of the odd action fairytale genre that crops up strangely frequently. Honestly, how many of these do we have to sit through before we get Hellboy 3? Hell, at this point I’ll settle for Van Helsing two. Save your money and get your Vin Diesel fix from something where he’s in space or racing cars, not hunting witches.