Starring: Tom Cruise, Ken Watanabe, Billy Connolly
Director: Edward Zwick
Running Time: 154 mins
The Last Samurai is an American film about an ex-Civil War general who is recruited by Emperor Meiji’s Japanese Army to stamp down a samurai rebellion, however after he is captured by the samurai, he begins to embrace the very culture he was sent to destroy.
This is a really odd film. It’s got the feel of a big American blockbuster, full of action and Tom Cruise (although they might be the same thing), however it’s also got some historical and cultural worth, interestingly detailing and looking at the samurai culture at the same time, meaning that you can’t discredit it as unintelligent, even though it may not be the most interesting.
I think that the main reason for it not being so interesting is due to the poor pacing. As I said, this film is full of action, but its attempts to be intelligent and look at the samurai culture mean that it’s got a very jerky feel to it, often overly rapidly and consequently very awkwardly switching between this action-packed plot and this cultural story, making for quite an unpleasant viewing, which made me not want to be at all interested.
Meanwhile, I felt that this film tries too hard to do both these things at once, and then appeal to a wider audience with both action and historical and cultural intrigue. However, I think that each one diminishes the other, with the action slightly cheapening the more intelligent story, whilst that story often makes the action in this film seem slightly unnecessary.
I do have to say that there were periods of this film that were a lot more interesting and/or entertaining, but that was only when it was trying to one thing at a time, so I could either enjoy the action or be interested in the more intelligent side of the film, and it was those periods that really caught my eye, showing how good this film could actually be, however due to that missed opportunity because of the muddled story line and the poor pacing, it just wasn’t intriguing or entertaining enough, which is why it gets a 7.1.